Sharks’ Clowe faces 10-game ban after leaving the bench for last-minute fight (VIDEO)

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Ryane Clowe has had a rough start to the year. He's played 16 games this season. He's yet to score a single goal.

And now, Clowe's luck might get even worse. The San Jose Sharks' bruiser faces a hefty suspension -- up to 10 games -- for allegedly leaving the bench to fight Andrew Shaw in the dying seconds of San Jose's 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks Friday night. From the Mercury News:

Clowe apparently took exception to Shaw's decision to drive Joe Pavelski into the boards in the game's final seconds. Officials appeared to quickly intervene, then handed out a boarding penalty to Shaw as well as a minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct to Clowe.

If the league finds Clowe improperly left the bench to go after Shaw, it could mean a 10-game suspension. There could also be lesser supplementary discipline if the league determines it was part of a line change. The fact the NHL is reviewing what happened was first reported by Bob McKenzie of TSN.

From the looks of this clip, courtesy CSN Chicago, Clowe is in serious trouble:

According to Darren Dreger, the NHL has offered Clowe an in-person hearing. That's standard procedure for suspensions over 5 games, which isn't a good sign for Clowe or for the Sharks, who definitely don't need this right now.

One of the major talking points about this suspension will be whether Clowe went after Shaw on a legal line change. But that's actually a secondary concern.

In September of 2011, Jean-Francois Jacques of the Anaheim Ducks became the first player to be suspended under the Shanahan regime for what Clowe is accused of doing here. Late in a preseason game versus the Vancouver Canucks, Jacques came on during a legal line change and made a beeline for Mike Duco.

Shanahan nailed him for the remainder of the preseason -- four games -- plus five regular-season games. Nine games total, although preseason games aren't quite on the same level.

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And, again, that was on a legal line change.

Now, in Clowe's favour, Shanahan was new to the job and coming strong out of the gate when he gave Jacques nine(ish) games. But if Clowe left the bench illegally on top of doing so in order to instigate a fight in the final five minutes -- and it appears he did -- this suspension could be just as bad, or worse.

That said, in a season that's already one-third over, with the Sharks struggling to right the ship, and with Clowe being a much more valuable player than Jacques, almost any length of suspension to Clowe would be worse.

Bone-headed play by Clowe, though you could understand why he might feel invincible at the San Jose Sharks' bench. This one time, he broke up a 3-on-2 rush from there and got away clean.

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