October 29, 2011
Chicago Blackhawks forward Dan Carcillo(notes) was suspended by the NHL for two games for shoving Joni Pitkanen(notes) of the Carolina Hurricanes into the end boards on Friday night; and he doesn't even have a Brendan Shanahan(notes) explanation as a souvenir.
Instead, it's former NHL defenseman Rob Blake(notes) of the department of player safety with the suspension breakdown; the hockey equivalent of seeing a Broadway smash with the understudy in the lead role. (Brendan Shanahan in this analogy being the hockey equivalent of Kristin Chenoweth.)
Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and based on his average annual salary, Carcillo will forfeit $8,378.38. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
At 1:47 of the first period Carcillo delivered an illegal hit from behind, sending Pitkanen into the end boards. There was no penalty called on the play. Carcillo will miss games tonight against Columbus and Monday against Nashville. He will be eligible to return Thursday at Florida.
A few thoughts on this suspension:
• The wording of the revised Rule 41.1 is essential help in defining this ruling. The old version used the phrase "checks an opponent"; the revised version specifically mentions "pushes a defenseless opponent," which dramatically cuts down on the gray area. All the sunshine being spread around about these rulings can be traced back to one simple thing: Clarity.
"I watched the play. You can look at the play and he's off balance before there's contact in my eyes."
It's a very close call, even after viewing it several times. But the onus is on Carcillo under these rules not to shove the guy in the back, but rather ride him into the end boards. He didn't. We can look at this play and say Carcillo is a victim of circumstance or that it's actually a hockey play. We might even be correct in both assertions. But not under these rules and this regime.
• All we ask for in these rulings is consistency. Mats Zuccarello(notes) of the New York Rangers was fined for a shove from behind that sent an opponent sprawling into the end boards; Carcillo gets nailed for essentially the same thing, only he's a repeat offender (on and off the ice). So the Shanahan regime remains diligent in (a) penalized this sort of hit and (b) continuing to go hard after repeat offenders.
• Finally, Deputy Blake did a reasonable job in place of Sheriff Shanahan. We appreciate him continuing the D.o.P.S. catchphrases like "as the video shows," but miss the simmering frustration the permeates through every Shanaban administered by its namesake.