There are, as everybody knows, only two ways to get out of working on New Year's Eve: the first is to book the day off well in advance. The second is to do something stupid that gets you sent home.
Unfortunately for Colorado Avalanche forward Cody McLeod, with a December 31 tilt with the Anaheim Ducks just five days away, his only viable option was the second approach. Think this hit from behind on Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon will be enough?
McLeod seems determined to get the necessary three games here, which is why he does all the right things to draw Brendan Shanahan's ire. He hits Spurgeon directly in the numbers. He gets a nice long run at it. He drives Spurgeon headfirst into the boards. And he appears to injure the Wild defender, who left the game, seemingly unable to put weight on his leg, and would not return.
Think it's enough for a Shanaban?
Wild fans sure think so, although they're also pessimistic that supplementary discipline's on the way, especially in light of recent head-scratchers from the NHL's Department of Player Safety. From Hockey Wilderness:
So, what are we betting the league gives for the reason not to suspend on this one? Spurgeon is a Zizzer-Zazzer Zuzz as we can plainly see? Another toe pick? Some other fairy tale from Mother Goose or Walt Disney?
This one is 100% on Brendan Shanahan and his team. Cody McLeod made the hit, but the Department of Player "Safety" failed to send the message. Someday they'll learn. What are the chances that day is today? I have the odds somewhere between zero and none.
If they seem a little grumpy over there in Minnesota, here's why:
Two weeks ago, Zach Bogosian drove Bouchard into the end boards, breaking his nose:
Last week, Lennart Petrell shoved Marek Zidlicky into the corner boards.
And neither play saw suspension. If Shanahan fails to deliver a ban here, is it open season on the Minnesota Wild?
There are some potential mitigating factors for McLeod. I hate to mention toe picks, but Spurgeon does appear to catch a rut as he attempts to stop, which may be why he springs forward. He's also the Stuart Little of NHL blueliners, so it's hard not to hit him in the head.
But one assumes Sheriff Shanny will have a hard time waving this one away.
Wild fans have plenty of other reasons to be upset. Spurgeon has been their best defender all year, so they're likely not eager to see him miss time, especially as others such as Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard are all returning from injuries that have derailed their hot start. Also, the Wild still lost their seventh in a row, 4-2, so maybe there are other problems.
Mind you, now Spurgeon's gone, so it's probably still the injuries.