The NHL has announced that Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber will have a hearing with discipline czar Brendan Shananan today for a hit last night on Vancouver’s Jannik Hansen (watch the hit here.)
Weber received a two-minute boarding minor on the play (and an additional two for unsportsmanlike conduct). If the first penalty sounds familiar, it’s probably because Pittsburgh D Kris Letang was whistled for the same exact thing against the Jets before Shanahan nailed him with a two-game suspension.
The question now is if Weber will be considered a repeat offender. In Nashville’s previous game — a 3-1 loss to Edmonton — Weber also received a two-minute boarding minor for nailing Jordan Eberle. No, Weber wouldn’t be a repeat offender in the traditional sense. Yes, he could still be classified as one.
It’s probably a stretch to call the Predators captain a serial boarder (mostly because the term doesn’t exist), but one could say the hits are related because both were born out of frustration. A team that prides itself on airtight checking and defense, the Preds have been awful during their current four-game losing streak. They’ve been out-shot 137-94 and outscored 16-6. Weber’s gone pointless over that stretch while racking up 12 penalty minutes.
To get a full sense of Nashville’s frustration level, look no further than head coach Barry Trotz. He lit into his team following last night’s 5-1 loss in Vancouver, saying rookie Mattias Ekholm was “horrible” and telling his young players if they’re scared of playing the best teams in the league, they should get a dog.
The Los Angeles Kings are already playing in the playoffs shorthanded thanks to an ankle injury to Anze Kopitar and losing another centerman would do nothing to help them try to beat the Sharks in the first round of the playoffs. During last night’s 3-2 overtime loss to San Jose, Kings center Jarret Stoll delivered a hit from behind to Sharks defenseman Ian White that might see him getting a call from the NHL.
Stoll boarded White while he was looking to fish out the puck along the boards behind the San Jose net and ended up smashing Stoll’s head into the top of the boards where the dasher meets the glass. The ugly hit put White down and he was removed from the game and did not return. There was no penalty called on the play. (Video here)
CSN Bay Area’s Brodie Brazil reported on Twitter after the game saying that the league is looking into the hit and that White is not feeling well. Sharks players are not too happy with the lack of call on the play and the fact that White is hurt. Sharks coach Todd McLellan was able to keep it all in perspective.
“We did have a chance to look at it,” Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “After the game we got a really good angle from right behind the glass. There was a camera right there and the good news for us is the league is looking at these types of things. They take them very serious. The bad news is we lost a very good defenseman that we count on.”
Ian White was playing in his first career playoff game and going out like this is unpleasant. For the Kings, should they lose Stoll to a suspension of some kind, youngster Oscar Moller would likely slot into his position in the lineup. Moller was a healthy scratch in Game 1 in favor of tough guy Kevin Westgarth.
Suspensions in the playoffs in the past have always been seemingly softer compared to regular season plays because the games have a much greater immediate impact on the season. Plays like this in the past would either net no suspension or a one game ban. With a hit like this and an apparent head injury to White, it seems likely that Stoll would see some sort of action taken against him. Losing Stoll for even a game really amps up the pressure on the Kings to find ways to score and with Kopitar out, that’s already hard enough.
When Milan Lucic of the Bruins helped ignite a line brawl of sorts against the Thrashers after taking a vicious hit from Freddy Meyer, which later saw Lucic sucker punch Meyer, it appeared that Lucic was heading towards an extended Christmas vacation courtesy of the NHL.
Today, the league weighed in on what they thought of Lucic’s actions and it appears they wanted just a little bit of money out of Lucic’s wallet. The league did not suspend Lucic for his sucker punch and instead fined him for his actions including $2,500 for the hit and another $1,000 for an obscene gesture towards the Atlanta bench.
We’d like to say it’s surprising that Lucic wasn’t suspended for his actions, but then again, this is the NHL where anything can happen when either Colin Campbell or Mike Murphy weigh in on these matters. Sucker punches have been given this same treatment before in the past and Bruins fans are likely to recall one such instance.
During the 2009 playoffs, Carolina’s Scott Walker sucker punched Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward in a similar manner and was only fined for his dirty punch. Walker would then go on to score the series-winning goal in Game 7 against Boston in that series. Bruins fans should be happy to know that in this case, the door does swing both ways and irrational punishment can work in their favor.