NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan has issued his first playoff suspension, handing Vancouver’s Byron Bitz a two-game ban for boarding Kings forward Kyle Clifford on Wednesday.
Here’s the video explanation:
Bitz was given a five minute boarding major on the play and a game misconduct. Clifford left the contest, didn’t return and today the Kings announced he’d miss Game 2 with an upper-body injury.
The suspension length is notable given what Shanahan’s predecessor, Colin Campbell, handed out in the first round of last year’s playoffs. Campbell issued three suspensions — Jarret Stoll got one game for boarding Ian White, Bobby Ryan got two games for stomping Jonathan Blum and Jarkko Ruutu got a game for a late hit on Martin Erat.
It’s also a noteworthy length given what Shanahan said back in March:
“I can attest to this as a player, if you ask me if I’d rather have a four-game suspension in November than a one-game suspension in the playoffs, I’d take the four-game suspension in November.
“If you think about it, that one game in the finals is the equivalent of a 12-game suspension. … I don’t feel we’re in the punishment business, we’re in the changing player behavior business. You do that by getting a player’s attention.”
By that math, Byron Bitz just got an eight-game suspension.
Mark Fistric will get three games at home to think about leaving his feet to hit Nino Niederreiter.
Brendan Shanahan handed down a three-game suspension to Fistric for his hit that knocked Niederreiter out of the game with a concussion.
The main debate about Fistric’s hit was whether or not he left his feet to deliver the blow, and in Shanahan’s explanation of the suspension he concludes that he does just that. Shanahan also says that Niederreiter’s concussion played into how severely Fistric was punished, as was Fistric’s history in which he’s been fined for previous offenses.
You can debate easily as to whether or not you think Fistric left his feet to make the hit, but the only thing we’re sure of now is that Niklas Kronwall had better be careful when looking to crush an opponent in open ice.
As for Shanahan’s explanation of the hit, here you go:
NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan has announced there’ll be no additional discipline for Carolina defenseman Derek Joslin following this forearm shiver on Florida’s Kris Versteeg:
Here’s the ruling:
“Any time a player gets a hit to the head, we immediately look deeper into the play. Sometimes, the actions surrounding the hit to the head lead us to quickly make a decision that this is not worthy of the supplemental discipline process. This one was a difficult one for us. I decided in the morning that while I wasn’t sure whether or not there would be supplemental discipline, I was sure enough that I had more questions about the hIt and that a hearing process was necessary.
“It really came down to that I felt that Versteeg not only was stumbling forward, but also his head was moving both forward and laterally just prior to contact. I think that significantly contributed to the hit. (Versteeg’s) head is falling down and out as Joslin is making contact to Versteeg’s face.”
Versteeg is probably livid right now. He was angry the referees didn’t call a penalty on the play and I can’t imagine Shanahan letting Joslin off will quell that anger any.
That said, Shahanan had his reasons. The above explanation is fairly legit, and Joslin has just 43 penalty minutes in 77 career games (read: Historically, he’s a clean player.) He’s also never been fined or suspended at the NHL level.