December 19, 2011
I'm Harrison Mooney of Puck Daddy's department of blogs devoted to looking at suspensions handed out by the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety.
Monday night, an incident occurred: One day after a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Calgary Flames in which Rene Bourque hit Brent Seabrook from behind, Brendan Shahanan made a video explaining his decision to suspend Rene Bourque two games for this hit. This is that video:
That's two games for a player with no history of discipline for a play on which there was no apparent injury (according to Shanahan). In other words, Shanny showed mercy.
Here's the part that really stands out to me:
Not only does Bourque pursue Seabrook for several feet -- he fails to minimize this dangerous play to an acceptable degree.
Not unlike the Kevin Porter knee-on-knee with David Booth, the distance the player travels to get to the hit is a major factor in Shanahan's decision. Presumably, the farther you travel, the more time you have to recognize you're about to do something stupid. In Bourque's case, he clearly had plenty of time.
The primary issue for some was whether or not Seabrook turned immediately prior to the hit as a result of losing the puck or as a result of his stick making contact with the skate of the referee.
Shanahan makes sure to note that the two factors are distinct, and that neither excuses Bourque from fault in this instance. In Shanahan's view, while Seabrook is looking back and to his right as a result of getting tangled with the referee, he has yet to "significantly" turn his body when Bourque drives through him up high.
That sounds a little bogus. The qualifier "significantly" is pretty subjective. Seabrook looks like he's turning a little to me.
But frankly, I can overlook that. This is just a dangerous, scary hit and exactly the sort of check that stacks the blueline on the NHL All-Concussion Team. Had Bourque escaped suspension here, Shanahan would have had to make a feature length film to explain himself.