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NHL suspends Mike Rupp of Minnesota Wild four games for Oshie head shot

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By Allan Muir

It didn’t take long for the NHL’s new chief disciplinarian to make his mark.

Appointed to fill the void created by the departure of Brendan Shanahan to the Maple Leafs earlier Friday, Stephane Quintal made a good call in handing Minnesota Wild forward Mike Rupp a four-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis forward T.J. Oshie on Thursday night.

The suspension includes the Wild’s final regular-season game and their first three playoff games. Considering what Rupp brings to the table, it might have been more punitive to make him skate a regular shift in those games, but you know these things work.

It was a pretty clear-cut case for Quintal and his staff. Not only was the hit late, but Oshie’s head was the primary point of contact. As the league’s Patrick Burke points out in the video, Rupp was obligated to hit him cleanly and within a reasonable amount of time after Oshie dished off the puck. Since Rupp did neither, there wasn’t a lot of latitude for leniency here.

The one bright spot for Rupp: he sacrifices just one game’s salary ($7,692.31) to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund because players are only paid through the end of the regular season.

Nice job here by the new crew. I hate to have to retire “Shanabanned,” but as long as the boys in New York dole out the discipline appropriately, we’re ready to make that sacrifice.

Captain Quintal, the NHL’s new chief disciplinarian takes over:


  • Published On Apr 11, 2014
  • SHANABANNED! Habs’ Douglas Murray suspended three games for head shot

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    By Allan Muir

    The post-assault apology was appreciated by his victim, but it didn’t earn Douglas Murray any leniency from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. The DoPS cops dinged the Montreal Canadiens defenseman three games for his ridiculous head shot on Tampa Bay’s Mike Kostka on Tuesday night.

    Kostka was concussed by the hit and has no return date in sight. Both factors played into the ruling. According to Lightning beat writer Missy Zielinski, it took Kostka 20 minutes to realize what was going on around him and he had no recollection of the hit.

    He did, however, appreciate Murray’s apology. “Classy move,” Kostka said. “I don’t think he had malicious intent, but … it was a pretty nasty scary looking hit. I’m thankful I’m standing today.”

    Read More…


  • Published On Apr 03, 2014
  • SHANABANNED! Columbus’ Blake Comeau gets two games for boarding

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    By Allan Muir

    Columbus Blue Jackets forward Blake Comeau was handed the two-game special today by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for boarding Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith.

    The video from Tuesday night’s game made for a pretty clear cut case for the DOPS boys. Comeau was tracking Smith from halfway across the ice and finished him off directly in the numbers about three feet from the boards. As Patrick Burke explains, the onus is on Comeau to avoid or at least minimize the contact when Smith is in a vulnerable position like that.

    The hit looked ugly, especially the way Smith’s head was driven into the boards, but since he was uninjured and able to finish the game, Comeau caught a break on the suspension.

    He will, however, have to fork over a serious chunk of change. Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, he’ll forfeit $10,256.42 to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.


  • Published On Mar 12, 2014
  • Justice? Joffrey Lupul fined $10K maximum for Winter Classic cross-check

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    Joffrey Lupul of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2014 NHL Winter Classic.

    Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul will pay for besmirching a record Winter Classic with his dastardly stickwork. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    It’s hard to tell who was more stunned after the latest cheap shot in the NHL. Was it Patrick Eaves, the recipient of a two hander to the side of his head during the Winter Classic on Wednesday, or the legions of hockey fans who were left to wonder how a flagrant foul committed by repeat offender Joffrey Lupul didn’t draw a suspension from the Department of Player Safety?

    Not that the Toronto forward got off scot-free after his lumber delivery. Lupul was fined $10,000 by the DOPS today. That’s the maximum fine allowable under the CBA and roughly what he makes over the course of three shifts.

    Doesn’t quite feel like enough, does it?

    Read More…


  • Published On Jan 03, 2014
  • Shawn Thornton of Bruins to appeal 15-game suspension for Orpik attack

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    By Allan Muir

    Shawn Thornton may be genuinely remorseful about knocking out an unsuspecting Brooks Orpik, but that doesn’t mean that he’ll accept his 15-game suspension without a fight

    It was confirmed by the NHLPA just before today’s 4 p.m. deadline that the Bruins enforcer would contest the ruling handed down on Saturday by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

    But while he has every right to the appeal, he’ll be in tough to convince Commissioner Gary Bettman that he deserves leniency, even as a first-time offender.

    MUIR: NHL sends clear message with Thornton’s 15-game ban

    Bettman, who earlier this year upheld Patrick Kaleta’s 10-game suspension in the first major test of the new two-step appeal process, has one overriding concern: to ensure that the league is seen as being strict and firm in cases where a head injury is sustained. Diminishing that perception in any way could expose the league to legal liability down the line.

    That doesn’t mean this is a pointless exercise, however. Bettman reduced a suspension to habitual offender Raffi Torres from 25 games to 21 after his infamous 2012 playoff assault on Marian Hossa. If Torres caught a break, anyone could.

    But if Bettman holds the line as expected, Thornton can take his appeal one step further to an independent arbitrator. Kaleta chose not to pursue that route, but the NHLPA may “encourage” Thornton to serve as the test case for this right, which was newly acquired in the most recent CBA.

    There’s no word yet on when the initial appeal will take place. We’ll update when we know more.


  • Published On Dec 16, 2013
  • SHANABANNED! Ottawa’s Jared Cowen suspended for head shot

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    By Allan Muir

    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.

    Read More…


  • Published On Dec 11, 2013
  • SHANABANNED! Dion Phaneuf to sit out two games for boarding Kevan Miller

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    By Allan Muir

    Apparently, roaring in from the hash marks to blast a player between the numbers and drive him headfirst into the boards is still frowned upon by the NHL.

    After reviewing the evidence of Dion Phaneuf’s cheapshot on Boston’s Kevan Miller on Sunday, the Department of Player Safety has suspended Toronto’s captain for a pair of games. He’ll also forfeit more than $66,000 in salary to the Players’ Emergency Relief Fund.

    Interestingly, Brendan Shanahan lays some of the blame on Phaneuf’s teammate, David Clarkson, noting that his slash buckled Miller’s plant leg, contributing to the awkwardness and violence of his contact with the boards. Of course, it wouldn’t have been an issue if Phaneuf laid off when he only saw numbers.

    “The onus is on him to avoid the hit completely, or at least minimize it more than he does,” Shanahan said. “Miller was never eligible to be hit like this in the first place.”

    This is the sort of hit we’ve seen routinely over the years and, more often than not, the player is sore but relatively unscathed from the contact. But it’s also the kind of impact that has the potential to cause serious harm, including concussions and facial or back injuries. There are smarter decisions to be made in this situation, and suspensions like this should help reinforce that point.

    Miller was clearly fouled, but not seriously injured on the play, so two games sends a message of non-tolerance while it leaves the league some room to lay the hammer down the next time this happens and the victim doesn’t bounce up as readily as did Miller.

    CAZENEUVE: NHL rules, The Code, and fighting meeting in dark place


  • Published On Dec 10, 2013
  • SHANABANNED! James Neal gets five games for knee to Marchand’s head

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    By Allan Muir

    The first suspension has come down after a series of violent events marred Saturday night’s game between Boston and Pittsburgh.

    The NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Monday suspended Penguins forward James Neal five games for kneeing Boston’s Brad Marchand in the head.

    The decision must have come as a huge surprise to Neal, who, after the game, claimed no ill intent. “I need to be more careful and I guess get my knee out of the way, but I’m not trying to hit him in the head or injure him or anything like that,” he said.

    But league safety czar Brendan Shanahan, displaying no evidence of having fallen off a turnip truck recently, wasn’t buying Neal’s golly-gee act.

    “With a clear view of Marchand and plenty of time to avoid him, Neal skates directly through Marchand’s head with his left knee,” Shanahan explains in the league’s suspension video. “This is more serious than simply not avoiding contact with a fallen player. Neal turns his skates and extends his left leg, ensuring contact is made with Marchand’s head.”

    A five-game suspension is the longest Neal could have received with a phone hearing, and the speed with which it was delivered suggests Shanahan didn’t see a lot of room for interpretation on the call.

    Read More…


  • Published On Dec 09, 2013
  • SHANABANNED! Kevin Westgarth suspended two games for boarding

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    By Allan Muir

    Kevin Westgarth couldn’t have made it any easier for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

    The Carolina forward was suspended two games today for a breathtakingly stupid hit on Ottawa’s Mark Borowiecki on Sunday.

    The Senators defenseman had just blown a tire on the corner and was trying to regain his feet when Westgarth barreled in from the face-off circle and planted Borowiecki head first into the boards.

    It certainly wasn’t the hardest or cheapest hit we’ve seen this season, but, as Brendan Shanahan explains in the suspension video, “at no point, from the moment Westgarth changes direction, is Borowiecki ever eligible to be checked. Borowiecki is completely vulnerable…[and] Westgarth never stops or makes an attempt to slow down. This is a time when Westgarth should completely avoid contact.”

    That’s what common sense would dictate, anyway. This is one of those cases where respect for the safety of his opponent should have slammed the brakes on Westgarth. Since it didn’t, and since Borowiecki was injured on the play, this was the call Shanahan had to make.

    MUIR: Players face uphill fight in concussion lawsuit against NHL


  • Published On Nov 26, 2013
  • SHANABANNED! Sabres’ John Scott suspended seven games for head shot

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    By Allan Muir

    Brendan Shanahan took his sweet time deciding what to do with John Scott after the Sabres’ lunkhead nearly decapitated Boston’s Loui Eriksson more than a week ago.

    At least he used it wisely, deciding to suspend Scott a total of seven games.

    He made it clear that Eriksson was hit directly in the head and that Scott, who cut across the ice to take him out, had other plays to make that would have been effective and legal.

    “On this play,” Shanahan said, “the onus is entirely on Scott to ensure that Eriksson’s head is not the main point of contact.”

    Read More…


  • Published On Oct 31, 2013


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