September 22, 2011
Brendan Shanahan's(notes) first two supplemental discipline cases were akin to starting your NHL career with two tap-ins on the power play. They were obvious, non-contentious infractions by players if ill repute; and the rulings by the NHL's department of player safety addressed their actions with harsh justice.
After the five-game (4 preseason, 1 regular-season) ban for Calgary Flames forward Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond(notes), Shanahan dropped the hammer on Jody Shelley(notes) of the Philadelphia Flyers for his hit from behind on Darryl Boyce(notes) of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night: 5 preseason games, 5 regular-season games, giving up $67,073.15 in salary.
Shelley was given a boarding penalty, five minutes for fighting and a game misconduct last night. From the NHL:
Shelley, who was suspended twice last season for a total of four games, is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Accordingly, he forfeits his salary based on the number of games in the season (82), rather than the number of days (185). The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
The incident occurred at 12:34 of the second period. Shelley was assessed a major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct.
""Shelley hit Boyce squarely from behind into the glass," Shanahan said. "Boyce's back was turned toward Shelley well before the contact, requiring that Shelley avoid or minimize the check. He did neither.
"Shelley's two suspensions last season weighed heavily in this decision."
That's right: a 10-game suspension for a boarding penalty by a repeat offender. No severe injury. No stretcher. Just a forceful rejection of a stupid, reckless hit by a player who's had a few of them (including two suspensions in the last year).
Too severe for Jody Shelley? Under the old regime and its illogic, hypocrisy and conflicts of interest, sure. But one gets the sense that with a new voice behind supplemental discipline come new benchmarks for that discipline. As Shanahan has said: "Set the tone early." If you're a player with Shelley's rap sheet and you do what he did … well, now you know the potential repercussions.
Emphatic start for Shanahan. But they always call a lot of penalties in the early part of the season. By the time the playoffs roll around, they let them play.
So before we crown Shanahan as the Prince of Penalization, let's see where this system is three months from now — and, more importantly, when the infractions and the perpetrators are a little less obvious.