COMMENTARY | With 1:53 remaining in the third period, Detroit Red Wings winger Daniel Cleary elbowed San Jose Sharks defenseman Scott Hannan in the head. It was a blatant disregard for Hannan's safety on Cleary's part, but Hannan suffered no injury as he quickly got up and went after Cleary.
As you can see in the video, Cleary purposefully sticks out his elbow in order to make contact with Hannan's head. It was a frustration move on Cleary's part as his team was down 4-1 after a Sharks power-play goal that came from an incorrect call on Kyle Quincey. Tyler Kennedy clearly dove on the play, but Quincey was called for interference, and the Sharks scored on the ensuing power play.
However, frustration is not an excuse for trying to take off an opponent's head. Cleary showed no regard for Hannan's safety and he should be suspended. There have been too many instances this season where players do not show any regard for each other's safety.
Some of them are a result of the speed of the game, but others like Shawn Thornton's slew foot of Brooks Orpik or James Neal's knee to Brad Marchand's head are plays that need to be taken out of the game. And the only way you do that is to make the penalties harsher.
Unfortunately, Cleary has no history of dirty play, and the fact Hannan got up right away to go after Cleary is why the Red Wing probably will not face a suspension.
Joffrey Lupul cross checked Patrick Eaves in the jaw during the Winter Classic, but got just a $10,000 fine and no suspension. Eaves left the game, but was able to come back in Detroit's next game three days later.
If Lupul can get off with no suspension when he has a history of being disciplined, I don't see why Cleary would get suspended, even though he deserves it.
Brendan Shanahan likes to base his suspensions on prior history and how severe the injury was. Those two criteria are working in Cleary's favor. However, a suspension should be based on intent as well. You can intend to hurt someone and fail, but that doesn't mean your punishment should be any lighter. The intent was still there, and the intent to injure another player is what needs to be taken out of the game.
Intent can be a difficult thing to diagnose since only Cleary knew what was going on in his head when he did it. But in this case, we can clearly see that the intent was to injure Hannan. There are no question marks, Cleary went out of his way to get to Hannan and stuck his elbow out.
Cleary needs to be suspended. These are the hits the league wants out of the game. Not suspending Cleary would make the whole suspension process a joke. Do the right thing, Shanny.
Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who writes about the Detroit Red Wings for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He also co-hosts a Red Wings Podcast called The Octopod, and is a high school sports reporter at MLive Media Group. You can follow Tom on Twitter.
- Sports & Recreation
- Detroit Red Wings
- Scott Hannan