Sunday, May 1st, 2016



I’m going to comment on the Duncan Keith suspension even though I’m probably going to hear about how, as a Canuck fan, I cannot be expected to have an unbiased opinion. In a sense, this is unfair because nothing Brendan Shanahan did was going to affect the Vancouver Canucks.

In another sense, I plead guilty. I’ve become a great admirer of the Sedins over the years, after being lukewarm about their skillset for their first few seasons. (I did not believe anybody could manage the puck into the net often enough to become a great scorer. I thought you had to be able to skate or shoot. Shows you what I know.) The Sedins have become great players and they are great people.

Furthermore, they are very tough players. They go hard to the net and they take tremendous punishment. They don’t embellish anything. They are victims of a media myth in that respect. (In fact, one of the worst parts of this story is that the officials apparently buy into this myth. Is there any other possible explanation for calling that hit a two minute minor?)

They deserve the same respect as every other honest player in the league, and then the big dollop more that is accorded to every star. If you have not enjoyed many, many of the goals they have manufactured, you are not a hockey fan. If you can’t admire guys who celebrated signing their last contract by giving $750,000 each to a hospice for kids, you aren’t a human being.

When I hear Don Cherry – or anyone else – tell me that Daniel Sedin was partly to blame for his injury, my blood boils. (It also boils when he tells me that he loves Brad Marchand. Nobody should like the way Marchand plays a dangerous game.) Everybody – including Cherry – should love what the Sedins have brought to the NHL.

I don’t expect to ever hear Cherry say a kind word about them and I sure don’t expect Sedin slagging to stop polluting every Canuck thread on the internet. I’m just saying emphatically that the Sedins don’t deserve this shit, and I’m really, really tired of it.

Whew. On to Shanahan.

This was a terrible decision, easily Shanahan’s worst. This was the most egregious foul of the season. Why? It was not a hockey play. Aaron Rome’s hit was a hockey play. When Shane Doan gets beat and instinctively throws out an arm or a leg, it is a hockey play. When Duncan Keith drills Daniel Sedin with an elbow in retaliation for a hit several shifts earlier, it is an assault. There really isn’t any difference between Bertuzzi’s assault on Steve Moore and Keith’s assault on Daniel Sedin. The intent – revenge – was the same.

If it was a hockey play that went awry, five games is a reasonable response. It wasn’t a hockey play. Are we to believe that Shanahan really thought Keith lost track of the puck and was just trying to finish his check? He should have made that clear in his video. Not only does he not do that, he pretends Keith does not have a history.

Five games isn’t even in the ballpark.

Postscript: I want to make clear that I do not believe Shanahan was influenced by the fact that a Sedin was the victim. I do think he was influenced by the fact that Duncan Keith is also a star.

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8 Responses to “Shanahanigans”
  1. Matt says:

    No one has questioned why Daniel was allowed – albeit briefly – back on the ice. The weakest part of the new concussion ‘protocol’ seems to be the immediate in-game diagnosis. If stars like Crosby and Sedin are allowed right back into the game after ugly shots to the head what has really changed?

    • Tom says:

      I agree, but this part of the protocol was always a pipe dream. It’s always going to be on the player and the player will often do what Sedin did. (If it’s not on the player, where do you draw the line? Should Keith have been sent to the “quiet room” after the original Sedin hit?)

      To me, the important thing is to get this sort of hit out of the game. Players have always taken numbers and looked for payback. They always will. Bob Gainey was not a fighter but when he was playing he said something like, “When I take a hit I don’t like, I know that sooner or later I’m going to get a chance when he has the puck and his head down. Hockey gives me plenty of chances to drill him back within the rules.”

      In last night’s game Kobasew took a penalty for a run at Aaron Rome after Rome had pasted a teammate. It was a penalty (and a fine) because the hit was high, but at least Rome had the puck. He went overboard, but at least the revenge attempted was a hockey play.

      Like I said, this was an assault. Keith wasn’t playing hockey. What makes his action different than Bertuzzi’s or McSorley’s or Chris Simon’s? He used an elbow rather than a fist or a stick? We don’t know how badly Sedin was hurt, suppose the very unlikely happens and it’s his career. Why wouldn’t a lawsuit succeed?

  2. Metaxa says:

    I don’t know the email of anyone “connected” so I hope that this thought can get passed on.
    I’m just putting it out wherever I can, maybe it will get some traction, maybe not..

    like many, I’ve been pondering the rest and relaxation holiday handed to Duncan Keith in the wake of Daniel Sedin’s concussion and just prior to the SCF..

    Won’t help now but wouldn’t it make sense to have a suspension, any suspension, served against the aggrieved team?

    So, using Sedin/Keith as an example…Keith gets the next five games that his team plays against Vancouver.

    The player gets suspended, loses the income, but it impacts his team over a period of time that is probably longer than serving it continuously.

    The aggrieved team gets to play the next number of games without that player in the line up…safer for all.

    It allows the media to rag on the suspended player for a longer period of time and it gives benefit to the team that drew the suspension.

    I can’t think of anything out of balance with this…lots of criminal cases are served on weekends or over time with the guilty party allowed out for work…why not suspensions in the NHL?

    Thanks for reading, hope this hits a desk that matters.

    • Tom says:

      I don’t have any influence on the NHL, but I do recall hearing that this idea was discussed among GMs at one time. I don’t think it would change the behaviour of the players which is what we want to do with suspensions.

      You make some good points, but it can work the other way too. The Coyotes would be delighted to have had Doan serve his suspension down the road, rather than right now. And if the aggrieved team was in the other conference, it could take several years to serve the suspension. It is circumstances that makes now a great time for the Hawks to have to sit Keith. Most of the time it doesn’t really matter.

      • BenS says:

        Plus, what happens when a player changes teams when the suspension has yet to be served? You engender a situation where it’s possible a coach could encourage suspendable offenses knowing that he won’t have to deal with the repercussions since that player will be cut loose in the offseason.

        Better to have it the way it is now, where the player and his current team are punished immediately.

        • Claudio says:

          Suspensions should be based on a number of games for the seriousness of the offence + the length of time the injured player remains off his team.

          • Tom says:

            I think the most important factor in determining the length of the suspension should be the act and the most important distinction should be, “Was this a hockey play? A bad choice made in a very fast game? Or was it a deliberate attempt to injure?”

            We’ll never get rid of the first situation – a hit will be a split second late or a leg goes out instinctively in an attempt to stop an opponent from beating a guy – but the second is inexcusable and we can get rid of it. The Keith hit can’t be distinguished from the Bertuzzi case. The act was committed for the same reason, if anything the Keith blow was more likely to cause serious injury, and the victim was badly hurt.


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  1. […] CANUCKS CORNER: Tom Benjamin considers Duncan Keith’s five-game suspension for injuring Daniel Sedin with a blindside elbow the worst decision yet by league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan, believing Keith should’ve received a stiffer suspension. […]

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