You wouldn’t have blamed New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello for being agitated given what’s transpired over the last week.
Last Wednesday, Dainius Zubrus caught an elbow from Buffalo’s Tyler Myers and last night, Florida’s Shawn Matthias nailed Anton Volchenkov with a high hit.
Even though both hits were questionable, neither Matthias nor Myers received suspensions — something NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanan was acutely aware of. Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger notes that Shanahan called Lamoriello to explain why the hits weren’t punished.
“It doesn’t escape me that this is the same ruling,” Shanahan said. “It would be upsetting to me to have two of these in one week with a team in the East and a team in the West. The fact that it’s happened to the same team, although Lou has said to me I never have any reason to call him, I still reached out to Lou and called him and spoke to him today about both hits.
“Just out of respect for the fact it’s the same team, whether it was New Jersey or the Florida Panthers. I would’ve done the same thing to (Panthers GM) Dale Tallon. When you have a couple of players on your team– important players — get banged up with hits that are not suspensions I think it’s important to call that GM and talk to him. Lou was great in our conversation.”
Lamoriello said he appreciated the call, though it wasn’t necessary — “Brendan knows me and I know Brendan,” he explained. “I respect the job they have to do.”
This incident is noteworthy because of Shanahan’s personal relationship with Lamoriello and the Devils organization. Lamoriello was team president when New Jersey took Shanahan second overall at the 1987 Entry Draft and one of the key figures in bringing Shanahan back to the Devils at the end of his career.
Remember, one of the primary concerns when Shanahan took the player safety gig was if he was far enough removed from his playing days to rule without bias.