Blog Entry

Wings' Smith suspended five regular-season games

Posted on: September 30, 2011 11:13 am
Edited on: September 30, 2011 1:15 pm
 

By Brian Stubits

Brendan Smith of the Detroit Red Wings has been suspended for the remained of the preseason and the first five regular-season games after his illegal hit to the head of Blackhawks forward Ben Smith on Wednesday.

Here's the description from the other night.

With the game tied, 3-3, early in the third period, Chicago's Ben Smith carried the puck into the offensive zone and tried to cut across the middle of the ice. At that point Detroit's Brendan Smith, who is fighting for a roster spot, connected on a hit that resulted in his ejection from the game (as well as a match penalty), while Smith was clearly shaken up and needed assistance in getting off the ice. According to Rule 48, the Match Penalty can be issued if the referee, "in his judgement, feels the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head."

Now for Shanahan's breakdown.

In addition to the suspension, as with each suspension, Smith will face a fine, forfeiting all the money he would earn in the games he sits out. Based on his annual salardy, Smith will forfeit $23,648.65. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund. The fund is having its best preseason donation period perhaps ever. Here is the staggering amount of money already given up, courtest of the Canadian Press. "NHL players are paid during pre-season, but they've forfeited $666,547.42 in combined salary with suspensions."

"I thought it was a little extreme, to tell you the truth," coach Mike Babcock said of the suspension on Friday.

I was very interested to see how Shanahan was going to rule on this hit. I felt there was perhaps the best defense any offending player had in this case as he was coming fromt he side. In all of the cases so far, Shanahan has pointed out the player had his back to the hitter well before the contact and that there were no sudden moves.

But it can't be ignored that Ben Smith is now day-to-day after suffering a concussion on the play.

It was argued by some that Ben Smith put himself in the vulnerable position. That's a point Babcock was trying to get across after the game.

"[Brendan Smith] should have hit him in the shoulder or chest but he missed," he said. "But the technique and the way he went about it, that's what you teach.

"I understand Chicago's reaction. But I also know what hockey is and what's going on in the game. We have to be smart not to be put in bad situations."

Shanahan addressed this very issue in the video, noting he believed Brendan Smith when he said he didn't intentionally hurt Ben Smith, but it doesn't matter. Ben's head did not significantly move prior to the hit and Brendan still made it the principal point of contact. He could have hit the body but did not.

Clearly, the hitting of the head is Shanahan's ultimate focus, as it should be.  Considering that's where the Smith-on-Smith contact was, you see the suspension of five games (and the remaining three in the preseason).

Blackhawks veteran defenseman Sean O'Donnell had some interesting thoughts on the matter. Not the hit itself, but the seeming increase of these hits all across the league.

“It seemed like when I first broke into the league, you would hit hard, but if a guy was in a vulnerable spot, you would ease up,” veteran Sean O’Donnell, 39, said. “And now it seems like some of the guys, when guys are in a vulnerable spot, their eyes light up. I don’t know where this mind-set came from. I’m not saying that about [Wednesday’s] hit. I’m talking about in general.

“Some of that self-respect for your fellow teammate, fellow NHLer or human being doesn’t seem to be there. I’m not sure why, but we do need to eliminate this because those brain injuries are dangerous things.”

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Comments
kkjyywlpo
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 15, 2011 6:20 pm
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Since: Jul 1, 2010
Posted on: October 1, 2011 2:00 pm
 

Wings' Smith suspended five regular-season games

I fear that over officiating of 48.1 could have significant impact on the quality of the games this year.
It will for a couple more seasons I think.    Plenty of players are passing up on the unnecessary hit like MacArthur put on Abdelkader last night.   The hit wasn't that bad as far as illegal hits go imo, but MacArthur needs to be better at missing the head.   Not every player plays to finish every hit in every circumstance and I think its going to be better for the game once they start deterring some of the hits on players that don't have the puck.    It seems like a large number of these hits are almost lazy, or the result of complacency because it looked like MacArthur was just going to finish the hit no matter what.    Players can train themselves out of some of those habits, and there are plenty of ways to defend.
Maybe, but the best way to prevent a scoring chance is to separate the player from the puck.
Maybe and in some cases I absolutely agree, but often going for the hit to separate the player from the puck is a mistake, as was the case with this hit.   When I talk about the "decision" I'm talking about that part of the play, the part where Brendan Smith decides to take a risk and go for the hit.    There is a risk with lining somebody up already, but for the sake of the team, I think the larger risk is to risk getting beat and leaving a player one on one with the goalie when it was fairly easy to avoid.   Brendan Smith had position and an angle to prevent any decent shot, but chose for the hit instead.   That part of the decision making process is going to be the easiest one for the league to fix imo, I think most of the head hits are a reaction to make sure they make contact and are tough to control. 

I'm sympathic to an extent with players like Brendan Smith and MacArthur because I don't think they wanted to make head contact initially.  I have a problem with the decision to make a hit in those particular circumstances.   The gain is negligible and they open themselves up to put their team out of position or shorthanded, not to mention the injury risk.



Since: Oct 8, 2010
Posted on: October 1, 2011 10:57 am
 

Wings' Smith suspended five regular-season games

Yes indeed bombers1717. Abdelkader was the recepient of a "head hit" by McCarthy last night during the Wings vs. Toronto game. Didn't seem any worse than the Smith hit (although Abby wasn't "knocked out"). No call. I agree that the league needs to do something about head hunting but it does seem that this has the potential to end up becoming a major distraction. The proverbial can of worms. Undoubtedly, much controversey will follow from head hit calls or lack of throughout the season. I fear that over officiating of 48.1 could have significant impact on the quality of the games this year.



Since: Aug 29, 2007
Posted on: October 1, 2011 10:30 am
 

Wings' Smith suspended five regular-season games

Are we gonna get a Shannahan break down video clip every time he suspends someone?

Actually ,yes this year.



Since: Feb 3, 2011
Posted on: October 1, 2011 1:21 am
 

Wings' Smith suspended five regular-season games

The "keep your head up thing" doesn't apply to this play.   Ben Smith knew exactly where Brendan Smith was coming from well before he had the puck and right up until he was surprised by a reckless and reactionary shoulder to the head.
Yeah, my statement was referring to the new rule in general, which I alluded to later on about going into the zone with one's head down and not having to worry if you can't be checked.

The smart defensive play was to take away space and the angle rather than going for the hit, Brendan Smith had support in the zone too.
Maybe, but the best way to prevent a scoring chance is to separate the player from the puck. This is hockey, after all, and hitting is a part of hockey. Since, as you say and the video confirms, Ben knew where Brendan was, he bears some responsibility to avoid the hit. You can't just make a new rule that allows a player to waltz into the zone without the threat of being checked. To say that Brendan was "getting beat" on the play is a bit of a stretch, given that he was able to execute the check to the front of Ben's body/head and it was not late.

I'm not saying the play is cut and dried, but when you start penalizing legal hockey hits just because there is incidental contact with the head, it will have the unintended consequence of causing players to become lax about protecting themselves if they think they are immune from being hit, as it appears Ben was on that play.



Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: September 30, 2011 11:58 pm
 

Wings' Smith suspended five regular-season games

The problem with this play was that Brendan Smith made a poor decision to go for the hit.    He was getting beat, and had he not thrown his shoulder up and out  to catch Ben in the head, Ben Smith would have been in alone for a prime scoring chance.   Brendan Smith had position and decided to make a big hit and messed up when put himself in a position where it's easy to misplay the hit and catch a head with a shoulder or elbow

Hockeybob. I agree 100 percent that Brendan Smith made a huge mistake, but I don't know if I'd call it a "decision".  I think he was getting beat and his instincts took over and he made a stupid play.  He's a big kid that's used to playing a pretty physical game and he doesn't like to get beat.  These kids are used to playing like that and used to getting away with a lot more then what's happening in the NHL today. Like I said earlier I have no problem with the 5 game suspension because I think players are so strong and so fast in the NHL anymore if the league doesn't protect them we could lose a lot of good players over the next few years.  

What worries me is how consistent is Shanahan going to be?  If Duncan Keith does the same thing, will he suspend him for 8 games the first time?  And if he re-offends, will he suspend him for 15 games the second time?  What if Zetterberg on Detroit does exactly what Smith did? Unlikely sure, but you never know. Would he suspend Zetterberg for 8 games the first time he screws up?  I'm willing to bet he doesn't. I've thought about this a lot lately and in my opinion when a top player or an important player that sells tickets screws up I believe Shanahan will use the loopholes in the rules he's quoting on his videos to avoid suspending somebody.  I hope i'm wrong but I doubt I am.....  the league does it all the time. I still can't forget a few years back where Malkin initiated a fight at the end of a game in the finals against the Wings.  He clearly should have been suspended for the next game, but Colin Campbell and the boys got all psychic on us and said it wasn't "premeditated"...   I betcha if that was Matt Cooke or a 4th liner on the Pens that instigated that fight in the last minute they would have been gone for the next game.  And I'm not defending Matt Cooke, the guy is crazy... just saying I think there will always be rules for most of the players and exceptions made for others.

once players focus on sound positioning instead of taking a reckless run at somebody, there will be fewer of these dangerous hits and fewer suspensions.

Mr Lidstrom has gone over 20 years without hurting anybody.  I don't think I can remember a time in his career where he lined anybody up for a big check.... yet he has managed to do pretty well controlling some pretty good and physical forwards.
 



Since: Jul 1, 2010
Posted on: September 30, 2011 11:31 pm
 

Wings' Smith suspended five regular-season games

The "keep your head up thing" doesn't apply to this play.   Ben Smith knew exactly where Brendan Smith was coming from well before he had the puck and right up until he was surprised by a reckless and reactionary shoulder to the head.

The problem with this play was that Brendan Smith made a poor decision to go for the hit.    He was getting beat, and had he not thrown his shoulder up and out  to catch Ben in the head, Ben Smith would have been in alone for a prime scoring chance.   Brendan Smith had position and decided to make a big hit and messed up when put himself in a position where it's easy to misplay the hit and catch a head with a shoulder or elbow.   

The smart defensive play was to take away space and the angle rather than going for the hit, Brendan Smith had support in the zone too.   We see the same type of thing on a regular basis, once players focus on sound positioning instead of taking a reckless run at somebody, there will be fewer of these dangerous hits and fewer suspensions.    Go figure, Hawks also scored on the pp when Brendan Smith had absolutely no reason to put himself in a position to take a penalty anyway.

BRENDAN SMITH never should have gone for the hit in the first place.   This is not a good example of a player keeping his head down like Babcock suggested, if it was, the suspension would have been lighter. 



Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: September 30, 2011 11:29 pm
 

Wings' Smith suspended five regular-season games

I am not sure if you people saw the hit, but I did and Brendan Smith clearly came thru with his elbow after the hit. This to me, shows he knew what he was going to do from the beginning. Ben Smith was concentrating on the goalie and it was a major cheap shot. Maybe the classless and almighty Babcock should shut his mouths and call a spade a spade.  



Since: Feb 3, 2011
Posted on: September 30, 2011 10:20 pm
 

Wings' Smith suspended five regular-season games

Well, the old hockey axioms "You've got to keep your head up" and "You've got to keep your head on a swivel" are no longer relevant. RIP. I totally agree with Babcock on this one.

I think the rule should be amended so that if the checker is slightly in front of the player, even if to the side, then it's the player's responsibility to see you and act accordingly. It's not a "blind side" hit because the Blackhawk player is looking in the direction of the Red Wing player and the Wing is further down the ice (or closer to the goal). A tie should go in the checkee's favor. I agree with others that it is a shoulder and he didn't leave his feet. I think it's good to protect against head shots, but those getting checked bear some responsibility or it is no longer hockey.

In fact, according to the new rule, a player could keep his head down all the way into the zone and no one would be allowed to check him because his head would be "the principal point of contact." If you are looking down, your head is sticking out and there would be no way to check you without hitting the head first, unless the checker threw his body at your mid section or legs. That sounds safe.



Since: Jun 13, 2007
Posted on: September 30, 2011 9:37 pm
 

Wings' Smith suspended five regular-season games

There are some many things about this play and others like it.  By rule, yes there was contact to the head a penelty and fine are okay with me.  To give him a match is all together a different thing.  I do not believe there was intent to injure on this play, a double minor perhaps, but a match no way.  The offending player never left his feet, led with a shoulder not a forearm, and the Blackhawk was in a position to defend himself.  Five years ago this was a no call, a clean hit.  I understand the player's heads need to be protected but at the speeds the guys are playing how can you possibly control in a fraction of a second that the player acrossed from you is going to lower their head to avoid your check.  If the NHL wants to protect these guys do something about the joke of a helment players wear, they probably would have more protection wearing a wet towel around their head.  I truly feel no suspension or fine is necessary; a double minor yes, a match no.


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