With the main course of Shawn Thornton’s attack on Brooks Orpik still a couple of days away, NHL player safety czar Brendan Shanahan busied himself with the amuse bouche of Jared Cowen’s head shot on Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons.
This is the sort of hit that wouldn’t have earned a second thought just a couple years ago, so seeing the Ottawa Senators defenseman handed two games for driving his shoulder directly into the chin of Girgensons is a clear illustration of the current state of non-tolerance for head contact.
In the suspension video, Shanahan makes it clear that there was a hit to be made by Cowen, but this wasn’t it. “After closing in from Girgensons’s right, Cowen drives his left shoulder into Girgenson’s head, making it the main point of contact,” he said. “This is not a full body check in which contact to the head was unavoidable.”
Girgensons wasn’t injured on the play–in fact, he stuck around to clinch Buffalo’s 2-1 win with his goal in the 10th round of the shootout–but there was no doubt that Cowen was going to be held accountable for this one.
Remember, it was just a couple of weeks back that Cowen served Pavel Datsyuk a chicken wing, sending the superstar to the IR. Cowen wasn’t dodging the bullet twice.
Two games seems like a fair call by Shanahan.
Now let’s see how he handles Thornton.