Precedent set: Shanahan suspends Bitz two games for boarding


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 gets three games for launching into Niederreiter


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:

Shanahan: No supplemental discipline for Joslin-Versteeg hit

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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.

Max Pacioretty receives three-game Shanaban


For the most part, the debate regarding Max Pacioretty’s hit on Kris Letang wasn’t about whether or not he should be suspended, but for how long. The NHL handed down its verdict today: three games. That will cost Pacioretty $26,351.34 in salary while Letang’s nose will be less pretty. Here’s Brendan Shanahan’s explanation video:

So what do you think? Did Shanahan & Co. give him an appropriate punishment? Did he suspend him for too long or an insufficient amount of time? Was a suspension unnecessary in general? Let us know in the comments.

Stewart suspended three games for Kronwall hit


NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan has suspended St. Louis Blues forward Chris Stewart three games for his hit on Detroit’s Nicklas Kronwall last night. The incident occurred at 11:14 of the first period of St. Louis’ 2-1 win:

The decision to suspend Stewart didn’t surprise many. Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said afterward that “it’s one of those plays at the beginning of the year they told us they’re going to be sticklers on,” while Dan Cleary added “it’s a dangerous play that far from the boards.”

Even Stewart’s teammate, David Backes, had a hard time claiming the hit shouldn’t be suspended.

“I don’t know. You look at the criteria put forth. [Stewart] has never been suspended before, never had a hearing before. Kronwall looks injured on the play, but he comes back,” he told Dan O’Neil of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Is it an ugly hit? Yeah, it’s not pretty.”

In a statement on the team website, St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong said “we respect the decision by Brendan and the National Hockey League as they continue to enforce the safety of all players during our games.”

When discussing the hit with Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch, Armstrong added, “It’s a situation that we accept and we move on with. But I just want to be 100 percent crystal clear that our support for the type of player Stewart is hasn’t wavered. He’s a very honest, hard player. This is a hockey play that went awry.”

Stewart will miss games Nov. 17 vs. Florida, Nov. 19 at Minnesota and Nov. 22 vs. Los Angeles. He will be eligible to return Nov. 23 at Pittsburgh.