Bruins’ Ference gets three games for ‘reckless’ hit on Ryan McDonagh

Saturday afternoon's Boston Bruins game ended the same way as their last Saturday afternoon game: with a dangerous, suspendable hit that led to a major penalty and a game-winning powerplay goal for their opponent. It's something of a Saturday afternoon tradition in Boston, like the ABC movie of the week.

The incident occurred midway through the overtime frame between the Bruins and the New York Rangers, as Andrew Ference chipped a puck into the Boston zone then shoved Rangers' blueliner Ryan McDonagh into the end boards while trying to retrieve it. For this, he has been suspended three games. Here's Shanahan with the explanation:

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For those of you keeping a ledger for whatever reason, Ference will forfeit $36,486.48 to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund. Moving on.

What stands out, to me, from this video is Shanahan's observation that McDonagh did nothing whatsoever to contribute to the danger of this play. Typically in these hits, the sudden movement of the victim prior to contact is highly scrutinized. In this case, there is none. "[McDonagh] neither tries to cut in front of Ference nor to reverse hit him," Shanahan says.

Furthermore, McDonagh loses the ability to turn away from either the hit or the impact when Ference made contact with his right skate just prior to the shove. This one's all Ference, from beginning to end.

Another thing that typically follows a dangerous hit is discussion of intent. In this case, Shanahan saw none:

Ference makes contact with McDonagh's right skate and then shoves the defenseless McDonagh on his numbers, causing McDonagh to impact the boards violently. While we would agree with Ference's assertion that there was no malicious intent, this nevertheless is a reckless shove from behind into the boards.

In short: not malicious; reckless. While Shanahan saw no dastardly forethought, that's sort of the problem. Ference had plenty of time to think:

"Ference follows McDonagh from a significant distance and has enough time to make a better decision. Quite simply, at such a dangerous distance from the boards and with a defenseless opponent's back to him, the onus is on Ference to avoid this type of hit completely.

All of this adds up to what Shanahan called a "textbook" suspension, a word that, like "quintessential", is the Department of Player Safety's way of saying that this was a pretty simple decision.

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