Congratulations are in order for St. Louis Blues' defenseman Ian Cole, who becomes the first of what, if 2011 was any indication, will be many NHL players to earn a Shanaban in 2012.
Cole has been suspended 3 NHL games, and will forfeit $21,081.09 in salary to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund (i.e. used to buy a car for the player whose confidence is shaken when he's chosen last at the All-Star draft). Here's Shanahan with the explanation:
While I expressed frustration on Saturday with Shanahan's seeming unpredictability of late, I have to give him kudos for making this one very clear.
Or maybe the kudos is rightly Cole's. After all, according to Shanahan, he committed a very clear violation:
"When skating up the middle on a play like this, all players understand the danger and should expect that a good, hard, full bodycheck could be looming. However, what no player should expect any longer is that his head will be made the principle point of contact whether intentionally or recklessly. If Cole decides to attempt a hit while approaching at this angle, he must hit Abdelkader square through the body and avoid picking his head."
"[...] this is a quintessential example of recklessly targeting a player's head and making it the principle point of contact. As was made clear in the department of player safety rules explanation video that all NHL players were required to watch during the preseason, targeting can be defined as either intentional or reckless."
In short, this hit is exactly what the league is trying to snuff out. It doesn't sort of resemble it. It isn't similar to it. It's it.
That in mind, as much as Shanahan must have disliked this hit to give Cole -- a player with no history of discipline -- a three-game ban for a hit that didn't cause apparent injury, you wonder if he was ecstatic that a "quintessential" hit landed on his desk to start the New Year. After some of the confusion following his first half-year in office, an opportunity to reiterate what, exactly, he's after is always a good thing.
That said, do you buy it? Is this incident really that much clearer a violation than a number of the other ones Shanahan has waved away with a fine?
I'm of the mind that he got this one absolutely right, but I have to bristle at the insinuation that it was an open-and-shut case in a way that several others weren't.