By Allan Muir
There’s nothing wrong with a player protecting himself. Brendan Shanahan pretty much called it an inalienable right in the video explaining defensive contact to the head that the league released just a couple of weeks back.
But, as with most things, there’s a right way to go about it and a wrong way. And dissuading an opponent by leading with your elbow, Gordie Howe-style? Yeah, that’s going to get you hauled in front of Sheriff Shanny, a man who is unlikely to accept a plea of “old-time hockey.”
So while Brown may have been defending himself from being plastered into the boards by Minnesota’s Jason Pominville on Tuesday night, the decision to use his elbow instead of his shoulder earned the Kings’ captain two games on the sidelines.
Coincidentally, that’s exactly how many games Los Angeles has remaining on its schedule, so Brown gets to rest up and take care of whatever bumps and bruises he’s been nursing just in time for the playoffs.
In his video explanation of the suspension, Shanny notes that while counter-hits are often seen as part of a puck or board battle, Brown “extends his elbow directly into Pominville’s face, causing an injury.” What makes this different from similar counter-hits that have led to injury earlier this season, he says, is “the control Brown has over the contact.”
Fair enough. Brown had options here and he chose poorly. This is a good call by Shanny.