October 09, 2011
The Shanaban-hammer swung yet again Sunday afternoon, as Pierre-Marc Bouchard(notes) of the Minnesota Wild was suspended two games for his high-stick to the mouth of Columbus Blue Jackets' forward Matt Calvert(notes).
Calvert lost three teeth and required stitches to his lip as a result of the incident, which occurred in the second period of Saturday night's tilt between the two clubs in Minnesota. Scott Arniel saw it as a deliberate attack, calling the incident "an attempt to injure".
But that's not what it looked like, upon further review. Leahy discussed the play earlier today, pointing out that it appeared as though the slash was actually the result of Calvert unintentionally lifting Bouchard's stick into his own face. This was Bouchard's defense as well. From Mike Russo:
It was just a bad accident. It was just a battle there on the faceoff. He comes after me before the puck drops, and we go at it. He lifts my stick and it hits him in the mouth. I'm not that kind of player. I was not aiming for his mouth."
The question, of course, is where, exactly, was Bouchard aiming? He still makes a distinct swinging motion with his stick; he was definitely trying to slash something. Bouchard says he was after Calvert's gloves and, considering the Wild forward has no history of dirty play, we can probably take him at his word on that.
So why would Shanahan still suspend? Because Bouchard still needs to be in control of his lumber. Despite Calvert's stick lift, Bouchard was still in the process of a needlessly high slash. Sure, he may not have been intending to drive it into Calvert's teeth, but if he had kept his stick down, it wouldn't have ended up there. As we all know by now, Shahanan has zero tolerance for hits to the head that could have been avoided and, in a sense, that's what this was.