Lucic suspended one game for boarding


TSN reports that NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan has suspended Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic one game for boarding Philly’s Zac Rinaldo:

Lucic received a five-minute major and game misconduct for the hit, which was all kinds of contentious. Rinaldo didn’t appear hurt on the play (in fact, he jumped up and tooled on Nathan Horton) and later said he didn’t think the hit was dirty.

Lucic didn’t agree with the call, saying “I felt like I made every effort to take him out laterally” and “you can see even him, his body rotating because I took him from the right side.” B’s head coach Claude Julien said much of the same, claiming that Lucic let up and Rinaldo turned at the last second.

No matter, though.

Shanahan opted to suspend Lucic anyway, and one wonders what would’ve happened if he didn’t. Looch ran afoul of the league earlier this season after charging Ryan Miller (though he ultimately avoided punishment) and holds repeat offender status thanks to a one-game suspension for crosschecking Maxim Lapierre in the face during the 2009 playoffs.

Throw in the fact other incidents involving Bruins went unpunished — Adam McQuaid’s knee on Nick Foligno, Brad Marchand’s slew-foot on Matt Niskanen — well, it was almost too much for the conspiracy theorists to handle. (With this out of the way they can now move onto other theories, like how the DaVinci Code foretold the recent concussion pandemic.)

Of note, this is just the second single-game suspension Shanahan’s issued this year. The other went to Buffalo’s Ville Leino for an elbow to the head of Philly’s Matt Read.

Zac Rinaldo was cool with Milan Lucic hitting him questionably

Zac Rinaldo

While fans might be outraged, Zac Rinaldo is totally cool with how he was hit by Milan Lucic.

Rinaldo is a tough character the same way Lucic is, but he tells Tim Panaccio of that he’s all right and that Lucic’s hit is just how the game is played.

“It’s hockey, you hit and go into the boards, I don’t think it was dirty at all,” Rinaldo said. “Shoulder-to-shoulder and just momentum. He’s big guy, maybe double my weight. His momentum carried him into the boards awkwardly. I don’t think it was dirty at all.”

That’s all well and good for Rinaldo to be cool with it, but now it’s up to Brendan Shanahan to decide if he’s OK with the hit. Lucic had his meeting with Shanahan earlier this morning over the hit and we should know soon what his fate is. Boston has a game tonight against Montreal and if there’s anything that’s true in life, the Canadiens are rooting for the league to come down hard on Lucic just for the evening.

Phone hearing scheduled for Lucic

Milan Lucic

Boston forward Milan Lucic will have a phone chit-chat tomorrow with league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. The topic of conversation: Is there anything more the NHL can do for the Bruins?

We kid, we kid – it’s actually to discuss Lucic’s hit from behind on Philadelphia’s Zac Rinaldo during yesterday’s 6-0 Boston victory. (The other call is scheduled for Wednesday.)

At 16:21 of the second period, Lucic received a five-minute major and game misconduct after checking Ronaldo between the numbers and into the boards. At the time, the B’s were up big, 5-0, on the Flyers.

Clearly Rinaldo wasn’t injured on the play, as he was able to get up and beat the stuffing out of Nathan Horton.

Lucic didn’t think what he did was so bad, as reported by the Boston Herald.

“I felt like I made every effort to take him out laterally and looked at the video and slow-mo’d it and looked at the point of contact, and there were no numbers. It was all shoulders,” Lucic said. “You can see even him, his body rotating because I took him from the right side.”

B’s coach Claude Julien agreed, saying, “[Lucic] let up and a player turned at the last second. It didn’t appear to be a hit from behind.”

Lucic has been suspended before – he received a one-game ban for crosschecking Maxim Lapierre, then with Montreal, during the 2009 playoffs.

The Big Question: How would you grade Brendan Shanahan’s job performance?

Brendan Shanahan

The Big Question will be a weekly feature on PHT where we ask a question, provide some background and ask you, the reader, to weigh in with your opinions.

Today’s question: How would you grade Brendan Shanahan’s job performance?

NHL disciplinarian is a tough job, something Brendan Shanahan is discovering after enjoying a brief honeymoon in the position. No longer is everyone patting him on the back for his “tough on crime” approach or for making videos that clearly explain the decision-making process. There aren’t many, if any, teams that have yet to disagree with a Shanahan ruling that either suspended a player or didn’t.

Mostly the complaints have focused on Shanahan’s consistency, or lack thereof. If this guy got this many games, why did this guy get that many games? Watch this video, now watch this one. How’s that play any different from that one?

Shanahan knows he can’t please everyone all the time, but is he pleasing enough people most of the time to deem his performance a success?

For what it’s worth, I’ve only taken issue with a handful of his verdicts.

First was letting Wojtek Wolski off the hook for hitting Daniel Alfredsson in the head. I thought Wolski did that intentionally.

Second was the Milan Lucic-Ryan Miller incident. While I don’t think Lucic deserved to be suspended for running over Miller, I disagreed with Shanahan’s conclusion that Lucic couldn’t have avoided the collision.

Finally, I thought Jordin Tootoo’s two-game suspension for running over Miller was harsh. Not that Shanahan didn’t warn players there’d be a “heightened sensitivity to the well-being” of goalies after the Lucic-Miller incident, but a major penalty was sufficient in my view.

Feel free to disagree. Those are just my takes. Yours might be different. Which is why Shanahan’s job is so tough. There are so many variables to each incident, and with each variable there’s an opportunity for people to have conflicting opinions.

Given the difficulty of the job, I’d give Shanahan a B-plus for his performance to date. How ‘bout you?

Shanahan explains Booth non-suspension

Miikka Kiprusoff David Booth
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On Saturday night, there were two similar plays that involved goaltender collisions that were expected to receive the attention of league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. Earlier in the day, we learned that Nashville forward Jordin Tootoo would receive a two-game unpaid vacation for running over Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller. On the other hand, Shanahan ruled that Vancouver forward David Booth would not be suspended for plowing over Calgary netminder Miikka Kiprusoff.

Even though the plays were similar in nature, Shanahan believed that there were significant differences that warranted a suspension for Tootoo and prevented Booth from any supplementary discipline.

“On the Booth play, he’s got the puck longer and the Calgary defenceman is right on his back and leaning on him right into the collision,” Shanahan told the Calgary Sun’s Eric Francis. “Just before impact, Booth turns his skates and is blowing snow and is trying to stop. At no point is Tootoo trying to stop. He argued that he was trying to jump. Whether it was intentional to hurt Miller or get out of the way — either way, it was the wrong decision. It made the collision worse.”

“I think with Booth he has less options because the player is leaning on his back right into the goalie.”

Bottom line: Tootoo was given a two-game suspension because Shanahan ruled that he never tried to avoid contact. Since Booth was trying to stop (and still made contact), he escaped the Shanahammer. Of course, if you put both of these plays against the Lucic hit that sidelined Ryan Miller for a few weeks with a concussion (or whiplash), it gets increasingly difficult to find consistency.  Then again, we were warned it would be this way.

It wasn’t surprising that Tootoo was suspended with the cast of characters involved and the public outcry afterwards (as well as the comments of Lindy Ruff). There was no way that Miller was going to get run over in his first game back without any response from the league. But the Booth situation proved that players can still crash the net without being suspended. In the long-run, just about every skater and coach would agree that it’s the way hockey needs to be played. Goaltenders may not be so quick to agree.

What do you think fair hockey fans? Do you buy Shanahan’s explanation for suspending Jordin Tootoo while letting David Booth walk away without punishment? Let us know in the comments…