Considering Warren Peters' hearing and the subsequent announcement of his discipline bookended the Minnesota Wild's Sunday afternoon tilt with the Boston Bruins -- meaning he'd be sitting it out awaiting punishment -- there wasn't a whole lot of suspense about if the Wild centre would be suspended. We already knew it would be at least one game. The question was how much more.
As it turns out, that's it. Peters has been suspended by the Department of Player Safety one game for his crosscheck to the head of St. Louis Blues' captain David Backes. Here's Shanahan breaking down the decision:A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.
In summary: Hey man, it's a crosscheck to the head. We suspend for that.
Things could have been a lot worse for Peters if he didn't have a few things working in his favour. He had no history of discipline at the NHL level, Backes suffered no injury on the play and, most importantly, despite the events leading up to the hit, Shanahan accepted Peters' explanation that the head hit was accidental. But it was still a crosscheck to the head.
Thus saith Shanahan:
"While we accept Peters' explanation that he was trying to crosscheck Backes in the shoulder, the fact remains, in doing so, his stick rides up and he recklessly crosschecks Backes in the head and needs to be responsible for his stick."
Wild fans should remember this same basic explanation from the Pierre Marc-Bouchard suspension earlier in the season. You'll recall that Bouchard sat out two games for an accidental slash to the face of Columbus Blue Jackets' forward Matt Calvert.
While Wysh has gone on record as saying he strongly disagreed with that suspension, I agreed with it and still do. Wysh compared it to Dominic Moore's collision with Ruslan Fedotenko, which resulted in a fine, but no suspension:
Sometimes, "hockey plays" go haywire, legal or illegal. Bouchard got two games for a slash gone bad, in which his stick connected with another player's face. Moore gets off with a fine for an interference gone bad, in which another player's stick connects with that player's face.
To my mind, those two plays were very different: Bouchard's slash had more in common with the Peters crosscheck above. It's about whose stick does the damage and why.
Here's the thing: you're supposed to keep your stick down. Slashes and cross-checks to the upper body are illegal. We tend to ignore the ones that do no damage or wind up connecting with padded areas, but when you attempt to perpetrate one and it winds up in an opponent's face, that's on you.
In the case of Moore and Fedotenko, it was Fedotenko's own stick doing the damage in an unfortunate collision, a "hockey play gone haywire," as Wysh said. In the case of Peters and Bouchard, they swung their sticks at an opponents' upper-body and, as occasionally happens during such endeavors, wound up connecting with their opponents' heads. That's an avoidable accident. It's why you're supposed to keep your stick down.
When an already illegal stick swing goes wrong enough to result in a stick to the head, I'm of the mind that you have to discipline that, regardless of intent. This call was in keeping with the precedent Shanahan set the last time it happened, and I agree with both of them.