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Brendan Shanahan explains why Rangers’ Rick Nash wasn’t suspended

Greg Wyshynski
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NHL Department of Player Safety chief Brendan Shanahan called Rick Nash of the New York Rangers after Nash’s controversial hit on Tomas Kopecky on Tuesday night.

“It was a rotten hit,” Shanahan said he told Nash.

But not a suspension. "There are lots of hits that we don’t like," he said.

“We don’t like this hit. It absolutely should have been a two [minute minor], and probably should have been a five,” said Shanahan, in a phone interview on Friday.

The no-suspension ruling from the NHL on the Nash hit was that it was an awkward, spinning collision between two players in which the significant majority of the contact from Nash landed not on Kopecky’s head, but the back of his shoulders.

“We don’t see this as being principal point of contact to the head. For a fact, we don’t see much contact to the head at all,” said Shanahan.

“On the Florida feed, when you slow it down, you see Kopecky’s back right shoulder is the initial point of contact. If you slow it down even further, you see the back right shoulder and the nameplate aren’t just the initial point of contact, but the principal point of contact.”

Here's the MSG feed:

Controversy raged over the hit because the aesthetics were damning for Nash. He left his skates to deliver a high check, and Kopecky’s helmet came crashing to the ice after it.

On the latter point, Shanahan said it was a “whiplash effect” that caused Kopecky’s head to snap and helmet to fall. As for Nash jumping into the hit, Shanahan said far too much attention is paid to that aspect of many checks.

“The commentators have too much of a fascination with ‘did you leave his feet?’ We don’t suspend for leaving your feet. We suspend for leaving your feet and hitting a guy in the head violently,” he said.

“It’s like a slashing minor, a slashing major and a slashing suspension. It’s the same thing as leaving your feet on a hit. When it rises to a suspension is when a player is in control of your hit; when we see a predatorial play and make significant contact with a player’s head.”

While they weren’t primary factors in the decision, Shanahan said that Nash’s clean record for supplemental discipline and the fact that Kopecky wasn’t injured “reinforced” the League’s decision that this wasn’t a suspendable offense.

It wasn’t a hit the League felt should have been delivered, and told Nash as much. But the NHL felt there wasn’t enough contact with the head to warrant a suspension nor did it rise to the level of “predatory” hits that only make some contact with the head.

Thus, Rick Nash skates away from a potential suspension, as a time the New York Rangers couldn’t afford to lose him.

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