The first Shanaban of the NHL's second season is officially in the books, and the recipient is Canucks' winger Byron Bitz. The fourth liner will sit 2 games for boarding Kyle Clifford in the second period of Game 1 versus the Los Angeles Kings. Here's Shanahan, who's down to 99 problems now that a Bitz ain't one:
It's an open-and-shut case, really. Bitz comes from the far side of the zone to make this hit and at no point does he slow up, driving Clifford's head into the glass. We've seen in the past that Shanahan is especially unforgiving of players that travel a great distance to do illegal things, not unlike Bill O'Reilly, so he wasn't going to let this go unpunished.
Here's the pivotal quote::
"[Clifford] makes no sudden movements just prior to or simultaneous with this hit to dramatically change the position of his head or turn his back to Bitz. The onus is on Bitz to avoid this check completely or at the very least minimize its impact."
I would argue that Clifford did make a sudden movement, appearing to pivot towards Bitz then turning back. Had he come around, he would have exposed the shoulder and made this a clean hit, but he never did, and you can't go around running guys and hoping they conveniently turn into the check at the last second. That's just foolish.
Some will juxtapose this suspension with the non-suspension to Shea Weber and claim some sort of double standard, but I'm of the mind that they're just separate incidents. The league got the Weber call wrong. They got this one right.
- Byron Bitz
- Vancouver Canucks