This pre-season the Maple Leafs have seen the best, and the worst of Brendan Shanahan’s tending of the NHL’s Wheel of Justice.
When Shanahan suspended Jody Shelley for 10 games after boarding the Leaf’s Darryl Boyce many fans, not just Leafs fans, took notice. Things were going to be different with Shanahan in charge. He had promised more stringent punishments, and more transparency. He delieverd both with the Shelley suspension.
Lengthy suspensions to James Wisniewski and Jean-Francois Jacques further solidified the belief that the NHL was finally taking player safety seriously by holding players accountable for their actions on the ice. Today it seems as though the honeymoon is over.
LeBrun clarified in a second tweet that the incident he was referring to was the Chris Neil hit on Grabovski that took place last night. You can watch the video of the hit here.
It is clear that it is difficult to be certain of Neil’s intentions. While the contact looks accidental you could also claim to see Neil pivot his feet and lean into Grabovski just before making contact. (Which I do) While I believe that the hit deserves supplimental discipline the real issue here is the lack of transparency. I would like to hear more than a tweet from Pierre LeBrun explaining why Shanahan felt further discipline was not necessary. Neil was definitely reckless at the very least. While I don’t agree with the lack of a suspension I can understand that it would be difficult to prove Neil was targeting the head or meant to make contact. However I would like to hear Shanahan himself explain that over a video of the incident.
It’s only one time but it seems as though the Wheel of Justice hasn’t stopped spinning.
Conspiracy Theory Alert
Shanahan wanted to suspend Neil and make a video explaining that he knew what he was doing as he had done this whole "accidentaly on purpose" move before in his career, players do it all the time and Neil needs to be punished for it. However this hit is so similar to the hit on Crosby that you could play the Crosby hit with the Shanahan explaination but then the NHL would look pretty silly then wouldn’t they. *Note this paragraph is sanctioned under the "Gotta Ask the Question Clause"