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

15 Comments

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?

Trotz on Tootoo-Miller hit: “Tootoo was trying to do the right thing”

7 Comments

Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz has spoken out about the hit Jordin Tootoo laid on Ryan Miller — a hit that earned the Preds forward a two-game suspension.

“My biggest disappointment in the whole thing is I really thought that a guy like Jordin Tootoo was trying to do the right thing, and not run into Miller,” Trotz told The Tennessean. “What he was trying to do was make a hockey play and not run into Miller.”

Trotz’s comments reiterate what Tootoo has maintained since bowling over Miller — the game wasn’t out of hand, there was no intent to injure and he did his best to avoid contact (the attempt to avoid contact was something NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan mentioned in his video.)

“I obviously did my best to jump out of [Miller’s] way,” Tootoo said. “When you’re going that fast and you get a little nudge from your back right on your hips, in that split second it changes a lot of momentum. I tried to leap out of the way. If I wanted to bury [Miller], my feet would be planted and I would be in a hockey stance.”

Trotz did say Tootoo’s reputation for dirty play and the timing of the hit — it was Miller’s first game back after missing eight games with a concussion from the Milan Lucic incident — probably played a role in the suspension.

“I wouldn’t say Jordin’s an angel. He’s taken some runs over the years over guys,” Trotz said. “But in the last couple of years his game is refined a little bit. He still plays hard and he still bumps into people and what have you, but I wouldn’t say he goes out of his way to hurt people.”

PHT Morning Skate: Where Theo Fleury’s Stanley Cup ring is on Craigslist

1 Comment

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Someone found Theo Fleury’s Stanley Cup ring that he lost at the Heritage Classic and decided to cryptically call him out to get it on Craigslist. Meet them in public Theo! (Calgary Sun, Craigslist)

Barry Trotz speaks his mind to defend the recently suspended Jordin Tootoo. (Tennessean)

Meanwhile, Tyler Dellow breaks down and compares Tootoo’s hit on Ryan Miller with Milan Lucic’s in Zapruder-like ways with harsh words for Brendan Shanahan. (mc79hockey)

We’re happy to see The Globe And Mail’s Eric Duhatschek back on the beat after dealing with illness. (Globe And Mail)

Joe Sacco was in no mood to be challenged by Vancouver reporters after the Avs were stomped last night. (All Things Avs)

Bad news for Colorado’s Peter Mueller, he’s still out but now he’s listed as having a head injury. (All Things Avs)

Toronto’s Colby Armstrong is hoping to be back in action Friday night in Washington. (Toronto Sun)

Did you know? Three different goalies recorded assists last night: Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec, Detroit’s Jimmy Howard, and Vancouver’s Cory Schneider

Carlo Colaiacovo is pretty sick and tired of always being hurt. (Post-Dispatch)

College hockey news: It turns out the Alabama-Huntsville program might not be dead after all. Give it up for independent donors trying to save the school’s lone Division-I program. (Huntsville Times)

Finally, check out Daniel Sedin’s hat trick last night against Colorado. (NHL)

Shanahan explains Booth non-suspension

1 Comment

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…

Comparing Tootoo-Miller with Lucic-Miller is a useless exercise

16 Comments

Nashville Predators fans are understandably upset that Jordin Tootoo was suspended two games for running over Sabres goalie Ryan Miller. After all, if Milan Lucic can run over Miller and get away with a minor penalty, why can’t Tootoo?

Brendan Shanahan’s explanation hardly assuaged the feeling the Preds got screwed.

“It is the attacking player’s responsibility to make a better effort not to crash directly into the opposing goaltender,” said the NHL’s disciplinarian in punishing Tootoo.

So, wait, why wasn’t Lucic suspended again? Nobody really believes he couldn’t have made a better effort to avoid Miller, do they?

But here’s the thing – the two incidents can’t be compared. Not after Shanahan received new marching orders from the general managers following the Lucic-Miller case.

On Nov. 15, after meeting with the general managers in Toronto, Shanahan told reporters that, “going forward certainly the direction and the conversation of the issue was certainly of a heightened sensitivity to the well-being of our goaltenders. As I’ve said many times, I’m not a policy maker, I’m a policy enforcer.”

And clearly the general managers had come up with a new policy, one that they’d be sharing with their teams.

So while it might not seem fair that Lucic got away with running the goalie and Tootoo didn’t, it’s sort of like the asbestos industry complaining it can’t put asbestos in schools anymore. The rules have changed. Get used to it.