epic disaster discipline czar Brendan Shanahan met with Blackhawks' rookie Andrew Shaw on Monday afternoon to discuss his hit on Phoenix goalie Mike Smith. After hours of waiting, reports leaked that the NHL wouldn't rule on the Shaw issue until Tuesday.
Here is why the Blackhawks should have an enormous problem with the league's approach. First, let's look at Smith's stat line from the game:
Smith never left the ice, and faced 50 shots in over 70 minutes. After the game, Sun-Times reporter Adam Jahns tweeted the following:
So what we've established is that Smith never left the ice, played over 70 minutes in the game (and played pretty well), and after the game the Coyotes said he was OK.
But Monday morning, before Shaw met with the league, Smith was one of three players missing from the Phoenix practice.
Now this from Tribune reporter Chris Kuc on Monday evening:
Does nobody see a problem with this approach?
Smith was never subjected to the league-mandated concussion protocol after the hit and never left the game. His performance in the game would indicate to the naked eye that he was mentally stable enough to play well into overtime.
And, after the game, Smith and the team's officials told the world he was "100 percent."
But the league will now wait more than 48 hours to see if he can play in the next game to make a ruling?
Brendan Shanahan's discipline has been as consistent as Stevie Wonder's handwriting during the postseason, and the decision to discipline the third day after the contact is embarrassing. Not only should the game misconduct penalty already served by Shaw be more than enough, but waiting this long to deal with the issue is just making Shanahan's inability to act more of a spectacle.
The problem was magnified in comments made by Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, who was assessed a match penalty after the end of regulation in the Caps loss on Monday night. Backstrom was accused of cross-checking Boston center Rich Peverley in the face. When asked about the physical play, Backstrom said:
"It’s playoffs, tempers are going to go. Whatever. It’s high intensity and guys are going to be doing stuff like that. Obviously, it’s happening in other series. It’s playoffs.”
This isn't even subtle. Backstrom, a legitimate superstar, is effectively extending both of his middle fingers at the league and begging Shanahan to do something about it.
Indeed, Backstrom confirmed the conjecture of concerned bloggers, beat writers and television analysts: players do see their peers getting away with just about anything, and now feel able to take liberties.
The league has had a terrible playoff start from a public relations standpoint, and the great ability of the players in this postseason is getting lost in terrible officiating and an inconsistent Shanahan. That needs to be addressed, and soon.