After 24 hours of waiting, Andrew Shaw finally learned his fate. Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's Senior VP of Player Safety and Hockey Operations, announced a three game suspension for the 'Hawks' winger, following his hit on Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith.
If you feel the suspension is excessive, you certainly aren't alone. Most observers agree that the contact hardly warranted the game misconduct Shaw received, let alone a suspension of any kind.
The NHL, who's had a credibility problem since, well, forever, has again confused and frustrated it's fan base. While Shanahan takes great lengths to explain the suspension, he fails to compare the hit to other recent suspension and fines. What the NHL is failing to realize is the fact that fans want to understand. They're trying to understand, and they're willing to listen. If only they league would explain.
Does Shanahan think that's comparing apples to oranges? Is he trying to protect goalies? Ok, if that's the case how is Shaw's hit worse than Jordin Tootoo's hit on Ryan Miller, which happened in a regular season game? Especially from a player like Tootoo who had a history of suspensions and fines. Tootoo, who's infamous for his antics, lost two regular season games. Shaw get's three PLAYOFF games?
It doesn't make sense. Where is the consistency? These are the questions the league needs to answer.
For every step forward, it seems our beloved league takes two steps back. The NHL was on the right path assigning Shanahan and his crew to handle these suspensions and explanations. Early in the season, they were drawing rave reviews from hockey fans and critics alike. Now, it seems like Shanahan has lost control. Fans and media are speculating about conflict of interest (the NHL does own the Coyotes, afterall). Others are suggesting that Shanahan was embarrassed by the reaction of the Weber non-suspension and had to make good and save face. While neither of those scenarios are likely, the opportunity for doubt is open.
This system needs to be tweaked. These playoffs are as violent as they've ever been. The suspensions aren't scaring anyone.
The NHL needs to adopt a clear, defined suspension system. THAT is the only way to scare the players in to behaving.
Michael Frolik is the leading candidate to take Shaw's place in Game 3.