The NHL season begins tomorrow night as the Stanley Cup Champions, Boston Bruins begin the effort to repeat at the top of hockey. This season is going to be an interesting one, as it begins without its top star – Sidney Crosby – and welcomes an “new-old” team – Winnipeg Jets. Along with ushering in a fresh franchise, the league will be dealing with hits that target the head, thanks to newly placed rule enforcer Brendan Shanahan;
Brendan Shanahan’s stunning ruling on Thursday, suspending the Flyers’ Jody Shelley for 10 games — the rest of the preseason and five regular season contests – could signal the beginning of an era in which the NHL backs up its rhetoric about player safety with action. It is a sharp departure from the way discipline had been handled in the past, when the sort of hit that Shelley threw might earn a one- or two-game suspension, or even have not been subject to any supplementary discipline.
A quick search of stories on Shanahan’s ruling reveals widespread approval, which rarely happens in these matters. Shelley, who had five previous suspensions, told Sam Carchidi of The Philadelphia Inquirer he was “definitely” surprised at the length of the suspension, adding that Shanahan “set the tone in a sense” for how he will handle matters this season.
I must also say that the NHL and its Senior Vice President of Player Safety, Shanahan, are also doing a wonderful job (to this point) of not only leveling discipline but also being transparent about each instance. The NHL and Brendan Shanahan have been posting videos showing the incidents and rationale for discipline, a very refreshing transparency in sports, here is the Shelley VIDEO.
It appears that this will continue as the video section of NHL.com has a “Player Safety” tab, and I am assuming that Shanahan will be posting all season long. They even have made a video of the good clean hits and good player discretion in regards to contact.
The NHL does get an “atta-boy” from me, but it could be easier if they would just penalize on ice incidents as they occur as well. With the transparent oversight and an in-game penalty many more Crosby like instance may be avoided.