NHL: Shanahan Policing Player Safety
The NHL created the Player Safety Department this June and asked Brendan Shanahan to be the Senior Vice President. The department is part of the effort to minimize injuries due to illegal hits within the league. There have been multiple changes to rules for checking and the literature in the rulebook on illegal hits.
You can access information and demonstrations of the changes on nhl.com in a series of videos featuring Shanahan and Mathieu Schneider.
Shanahan is now responsible for handing out player suspensions and working with GM’s and the NHLPA on rules to protect the players. He will also look at issues with the equipment that could be dangerous.
So far it looks like Shanahan means business. There’s already been a lot of suspensions this pre-season, some of which are extending well into regular season games. Here are the latest disciplinary actions:
Jean Francois Jacques- Suspended for the rest of the pre-season and 5 regular season games. Jacques left his bench illegally with only the purpose of starting a fight.
James Wisniewski – Suspended for the rest of the pre-season and 8 regular season games. Wisniewski illegally targeted a player’s head after the whistle.
Brad Staubitz – Suspended for the rest of the pre-season and 3 regular season games. Staubitz delivered an illegal hit from behind to a defenceless opponent.
Brad Boyes – Suspended for 2 pre-season games. Boyes hit an opponent’s head in a seemingly unintentional, but still illegal check.
Jody Shelley – Suspended for the rest of the pre-season and 5 regular season games. Shelley hit his opponent from behind illegally and injured him.
Pierre-Luc-Letourneau-Leblond – Suspended for 4 pre-season games and 1 regular season game for a hit from behind.
Shanahan will clean things up pretty quick if he keeps giving out suspensions at this rate. He has clearly stated that repeat offenders will get stiffer punishment, which is the reason behind Wisniewski and Shelley’s stiff penalties. Boyes hasn’t had any prior problems and his hit didn’t seem as intentional so he got off light on his sentence.
This is definitely a big step in the right direction. I’m sure there will be a lot of controversy at first with the Department of Player Safety. It will take some time for the players to get used to the definitions of illegal hits, and what to expect for fair punishment. Ultimately I hope we can see the heavy hitting NHL style of play continue to thrive under Brendan Shanahan’s watchful eyes.