Anyone who watched last Wednesday’s game between the Blackhawks and Canucks knows that the elbow Duncan Keith gave to Daniel Sedin was bad (some would say it was a dirty hit, but that’s really debatable). We all knew, just as when Daniel Carcillo boarded Tom Gilbert in January, that Duncs would be getting a call from Brendan Shanahan about it. When it was announced that his hearing would be a phone conference, fans breathed a sigh of relief because it would be under five games.
But then things got quite hinky. Late Thursday evening, Shanahan changed his mind and decided that he wanted an in-person meeting with Duncs, meaning the punishment would be a minimum five-game suspension. Everyone scratched their heads as to why the sudden U-turn, and quite a few fans (including me) speculated that Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault and GM Mike Gillis whined to Shanahan about the hit and had kept Daniel out of the game to make things looks worse for Duncs. I personally would’ve been fine with three games, but no more than that.
So, the time for the hearing rolled around, and we all went into Verdict Watch, like they do for high-profile court cases. At 6 p.m. Eastern, the news came down: Duncs would be suspended for five games for that hit. While a lot of people were fine with it, I wasn’t.
I had to have Emma watch Shanahan’s explanation video for me because I’d just scream at my computer screen and be tempted to launch the whole thing out the window. I want to thank her for doing that and putting in the following notes:
“Regardless of Keith’s assertion that the intent on this play was to impede Sedin’s progress as opposed to a retaliation for an earlier hit, Keith’s hit was still dangerous, reckless and caused injury,” said NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan in a statement. “We’ve also taken into consideration Keith’s supplemental discipline record which includes no suspensions and one fine over nearly seven NHL seasons.” from here–it’s verbatim from the video I watched.
THAT IS ALL HE SAYS! I think even he knows this is getting flimsy. Guilty conscience.
Keep in mind Doan has been suspended before and also fined recently:
Doan was the first player to be suspended under a new rule against shots to the head in 2010, so the latest incident marks him as a repeat offender under the terms of the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement. Doan also was fined $2,500 by the NHL last week for a boarding call against Calgary Flames defenceman Mark Giordano.
So Duncs, a first-time offender, got a heftier suspension than someone who was suspended the week before for the same hit and was a repeat offender. In Shane Doan‘s case, his hit was against Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars. No one screamed for Doan to be suspended for a long time. Oh, and the hit that started the whole mess with Duncs and D. Sedin? Nothing. Zip. Nada. It was considered “shoulder-to-shoulder” and didn’t need any punishment. How nice.
It seems to me that there are favored teams and not-so-favored teams, the Canucks being the “golden team” and the Boston Bruins being the team on the losing end. Remember Raffi Torres and his hit on Brent Seabrook in the first round of the playoffs last season? No fine, no suspension. There was also no action taken against Alex Burrows when he bit Patrice Bergeron in the finals. This year, Philadelphia’s Tom Sestito was never punished for the hit he gave to Nathan Horton, a hit from which Horts is still recovering. But take a look at the Bruins roster, and you could probably say the number of players who haven’t been fined or suspended is in the single digits. Many times, the fines/suspensions have been heavy-handed and unfair, such as Andrew Ference‘s three-game suspension for boarding the New York Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh, who wasn’t hurt (according to Emma, Ferry’s only offense prior to this was probably the middle finger he gave during the Bruins’ playoff series with the Montreal Canadiens).
I’d say the lessons taught by this incident are clear: tread lightly when facing the Vancouver Canucks, for they are the league’s blameless, untouchable team, and never underestimate the inconsistency that lies within the Senior Vice President of the Department of Player Safety.