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).
“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.”