Tag:Brendan Shanahan
Posted on: December 24, 2011 12:38 pm
Edited on: December 25, 2011 4:33 pm

Top NHL stories and moments in 2011

By Brian Stubits

There was a lot of good in 2011, but also a lot of bad. By bad, I really mean tragedy. It was an unforgettable yet forgettable year all at the same time.

As we hit the heart of the holiday season, here is a look back at the year that was in hockey with the top 10 moments/storylines of 2011.

10. Summer acquisitions -- This is when the magic happens in the NHL's salary cap world and franchises are made or destroyed.

It was over the summer that two teams in particular built the nucleus for their surprising starts this season, the Minnesota Wild and Florida Panthers. Minnesota was the host for this year's NHL Entry Draft and really did leave an impression. Not only did they come away from the draft with a few new prospects in their system but they also swung a deal to land Devin Setoguchi from the San Jose Sharks for Brent Burns. The Wild swung another deal with the Sharks that landed them Dany Heatley for Martin Havlat. Of course their biggest summer acquisition might have been the hiring of head coach Mike Yeo.

The Panthers meanwhile continued to use the draft to make their system better and also swung a big trade, taking on Brian Campbell's big salary from the Blackhawks in exchange for Rostislav Olesz. That kicked off a wild spending spree that lasted through free agency and the core of the team that's in first in the Southeast was built just like that. Like the Wild, they also found themselves a new coach who has returned big dividends early in Kevin Dineen.

The unrestricted free-agent class was led by the pursuit of Brad Richards, who eventually signed with the New York Rangers after a day of courting, including from the Maple Leafs while GM Brian Burke was in Afghanistan. But the most intrigue was on the restricted front where Steven Stamkos' future was wildly speculated before re-signing with the Lightning and Shea Weber stayed with the Predators after the biggest arbitration award ever.

A couple weeks in the middle of the year set up the last couple of months in the year and even with what was perceived as a weak free-agent class, this year was no different.

Look back: Free-agency tracker

9. Winter Classic -- As sad as it is to think about, games hardly ever are the top stories in sports any more. But in hockey, the Winter Classic will always matter, it's that big of a showcase and spectacle for the NHL.

As is the case with every Winter Classic -- as fans of all the less-fortunate teams will remind you -- it was a marquee matchup of two high-profile teams from the East with the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Caps eventually prevailed in a game that might be the most memorable Winter Classic thus far for a variety of reasons, one of them makes an appearance later on this list.

But first of all the lead up to the game featured the first 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic series on HBO and it was riveting. While technically most of it aired in 2010, it is tied in with the Winter Classic so it counts. It left fans anticipating the next version like a kid awaits Christmas, this year's version featuring the Flyers and Rangers.

Mother Nature also left her mark on the game. It was the first Winter Classic thus far that the weather was so uncooperative that they had to delay the start of the game. Unseasonably warm temperatures and rain in Pittsburgh led to the game being pushed to the night and it did provide a pretty memorable setting at Heinz Field. 

Look back: Caps win Winter Classic 3-1

8. Realignment -- While the fruit of this labor will be seen starting in 2012, it was a large conversation for the entire second half of the year, spurred by a development that appears further up this list.

I don't know if there was a person in hockey -- both within the game and covering it -- that didn't have their own idea for how the realignment should be done. In the end the six-division format was blown up, an effort that was from all accounts led by Gary Bettman himself.

The biggest drama in the whole saga revolved around the Detroit Red Wings' desire to move to the Eastern Conference. Well, without an Eastern Conference to move to any more, I guess you could say that was taken care of.

Look back: NHL announces realignment

7. Lokomotiv plane crash -- The KHL is to the NHL as the NHL is to ESPN. That is to say the only time we ever seem to hear about the KHL is when something bad happens.

Unfortunately, that was the case this summer when the airplane carrying the KHL's Yaroslavl Lokomotiv team barely got airborne before it crashed, killing everybody on board except a member of the flight crew.

The tragedy was already tough enough for the hockey community in North America simply for the fact sheer sadness of the lethal error. But what made it really hit home in the NHL was the number of former NHL players who died in the crash.

Among those who died in the crash were Josef Vasicek, Karlis Skrastins, Ruslan Salei, Pavol Demitra and head coach Brad McCrimmon, all of who were in the NHL at some point in their careers. In the case of McCrimmon he was a member of the Detroit Red Wings coaching staff as recently as last season before he took the chance to be a head coach in Russia.

Nothing from the ordeal was more chilling than the sad, sad story from a professional driver in Dallas who was tasked with picking up the family of Skrastins to drive them to the airport hours after the tragedy. Honestly, I'm getting emotional just thinking about it again. It was truly a horrible day for hockey.

Look back: Lokomovit team plane crashes

6. Vancouver riot -- For the second time in as many Stanley Cup trips for the Vancouver Canucks, the hockey-crazed city erupted into a violent storm following its team's loss in the decisive Game 7. A similar eruption happened in 1994 after the Canucks fell to the New York Rangers.

The night began with a massive gathering in the streets of Vancouver for the fans to all watch the game together on a big screen. Many saw that as an ill-fated moment from the start and boy were they right. Soon after the game and season were finished, the hooligans of Vancouver were just getting started.

Looters took to the streets to cause mayhem, and cause mayhem they did. The result was a night full of rioting embarrassing to the city, a lot of videos to live on in YouTube glory (like this classic), at least 25 people being charged (including Miss Congeniality) and the romance, sports and maybe general photo of the year, the "riot kiss" seen up above.

The unfortunate part (OK, one of them) was the fact that the riot completely overshadowed what was really a great postseason and season for the Canucks. Vancouver was the best team all regular season long and as fine of a year as they ever have.

Look back: Riot erupts after Stanley Cup Finals

5. Brendan Shanahan takes over -- There has been no bigger overarching story in the second half of the year than what Shanahan has been doing as the new head of player safety having replaced Colin Campbell. His arrival on the job has coincided with the attempt to expand and clarify Rule 48.1, the one dealing with headshots. The focus has also been ramped up on boarding.

His impact has been felt from the get-go. In the preseason he was very busy and then really sent some shock waves through the league when he suspended Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski for eight games.

It's at the point now that every questionable hit is immediately scrutinized and I'm still not sure if that's good or bad. Obviously the good is that it continues to put a microscope on bad hits in an attempt to rid the game of them. On the bad side, some clean hits get more attention than they should and the consistency of punishment applications has been a bit bedeviling, just ask the Sabres fans.

However Shanahan has done something that I've yet to find a person complain about and that's making videos for each and every suspension wherein he explains exactly what the thought process was that led to the decision. The first one he made in the preseason was a breath of fresh air and welcome transparency. All season he's been a busy, busy man.

You know you've watched a lot of Shanahan suspension videos when you can recall that he has done videos in front of three different backdrops and you can tell when he gets a haircut.

Look back: A look at Shanahan's handy work

4. Winnipeg Jets return -- At one point, it looked like the old Jets -- the Phoenix Coyotes -- were going to be the team to move to Winnipeg. Fans were elated as it seemed that with a clear potential ownership group and new, albeit small, arena, the NHL would be coming back to the 'Peg after 15 years.

Then they pulled a little switcheroo on everybody when the Coyotes announced they were staying in Phoenix for another year, so attention turned to the Atlanta Thrashers. A few transactions later and hockey was back in Manitoba (and the NHL had to realign -- Winnipeg in the Southeast?).

The push was one to rename the team the Jets like the old franchise in town and after much debate, the fans won out, although a new logo would be introduced. Not lacking in flair, the Jets showed off their new uniforms in an unveiling at a military base with the players wearing the new duds walking out of a cargo plane.

The first game of the Jets. 2.0 came in their new home at the MTS Centre and they fell in defeat to the Montreal Canadiens, but you couldn't tell. The great hockey city that is Winnipeg was happier than a pig in you-know-what just to have the NHL back. When Nik Antropov became the first player to score for the new Jets, the roar was deafening. Maybe the best way to measure the city's appreciation and love for having hockey back would have been with decibels.

After a slow start (again, they were the Thrashers) the Jets have really come to find a comfort on home ice, as many thought they would. With a 12-6-1 record at home this season, the Jets have the best home mark in the Eastern Conference next to Boston's 13-6-1. It seems that a little excitement really can go a long way.

Look back: Thrashers relocate to Winnipeg

3. Sidney Crosby's concussions -- This was the biggest development to come out of the aforementioned Winter Classic in Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby caught an elbow to the head from the Capitals' David Steckel that rocked the game's best player pretty good. He certainly appeared out of sorts but was back in the lineup a few days later against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

A check from Victor Hedman led to Crosby experiencing another concussion and he didn't play again for the rest of the season. He finally did return to game action in November, playing eight games before being shut down again for post-concussion symptoms.

Before he went down, Crosby was on pace for one mammoth season. To illustrate how good he was playing before the injury, he still finished the season as the Penguins' leading scorer by a whopping 16 points despite playing only 41 games.

For literally almost a year, the hockey world sat and waited for word on Crosby returning. There was speculation he could come back for the Penguins' playoffs games. There was talk that he might retire. None of that happened, but what did do was bring another reminder of the seriousness that are concussions.

It's not good business for the NHL when the top players aren't on the ice, let alone the best player. I'd like to think it isn't the case, but you have to wonder if Crosby's absence didn't go a long way in facilitating the NHL's actions on trying to remove bad hits as well as enacting strong concussion protocols.

The way the Penguins have handled the Crosby situation has been one of the best parts of all -- or maybe the only good part, depending on your point of view. They have been incredibly patient the entire time, insisting they didn't want to do anything to jeopardize Crosby's health and future.

But because of his most recent setback, Crosby Watch 2011 will move on into Crosby Watch 2012.

Look back: Crosby's recovery efforts

2. Deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, Wade Belak -- The NHL's summer of sorrow began in late spring when the tragic news came down of New York Rangers and former Minnesota Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard's death. The autopsy concluded he died of a lethal mix of alcohol and Oxycodone.

Later in the offseason the NHL was then shook by the news of deaths of Rick Rypien and Wade Belak, separated by only two weeks. Both players were fighters themselves, each suffered from depression and both apparently committed suicide (Rypien's was classified as such, Belak's death treated as such by Toronto PD).

The news of their deaths was sad and shocking in their own right. These were all players 35 or younger who all shared a role in their hockey careers. It was also a catalyst for the discussion of fighting in hockey. No tie can be drawn between each of their deaths and fighting, but it at least begged the question.

Since the three players died, the conversation has picked up. It was really spurred along by the New York Times' in-depth piece that looked at the life of Boogaard and the study of his brain. The findings of the Boston University lab found Boogaard's brain was already showing signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a deterioration of the brain due to repeated blows to the head.

Look back: Boogaard | Rypien | Belak

1. Bruins win Stanley Cup -- If he didn't already have the designation by all before, Tim Thomas certainly earned it in the playoffs. He is the best goalie in the world.

Thomas pretty much put the Bruins on his shoulders and carried them past the Vancouver Canucks in a great seven-game series that led to the Bruins hoisting their first Stanley Cup in 39 years. Of course Thomas topped it off with a shutout in Game 7 and took home the Conn Smythe as the playoff MVP, an incredibly well-deserved award.

But in addition to Thomas, it was one heck of a series. The first six games were won by the home team. We had one game ending a few seconds into overtime. Who can forget the man that scored that goal, Alex Burrows, was caught biting Patrice Bergeron in a scrum and the resulting taunts at Burrows from the Bruins later on.

There was Nathan Horton getting leveled and concussed in Boston in a moment that some feel changed the series. The Bruins responded to that by running the Canucks out of their building in Games 3 and 4. Horton made another impression when he was seen pouring TD Garden ice on the rink in Vancouver before Game 7, a superstitious move that will live in Bruins lore.

We had Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo pumping Thomas' tires after critiquing his aggressive style in net. Then of course item No. 6 on this list, the post-series riot in Vancouver.

The series was about as memorable as it gets. The ratings were as good as they have been in decades, too. And the Bruins' post-championship romp back in New England became a legend with a reported $156,679.74 bar tab that included one Amstel Light. It kicked off a great summer tour with the Cup for the Bruins, Michael Ryder's Cup mishap included.

There is no disputing the Bruins earned the right to lift Lord Stanley's Cup after one great Final.

Look back: Bruins win Stanley Cup

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: December 23, 2011 11:55 am

No need to 'answer the bell' after good hits

By Brian Stubits

There is a growing trend in hockey and quite frankly, it's stupid. That's the best word I can think of to describe it.

There is a lot of discussion these days in the NHL on fighting and hitting. The two physical aspects of the game were already intertwined, but they seem to be colliding even more these days. With Brendan Shanahan's focus on removing bad hits from the game through the use of his Shanahammer, maybe the players are more on edge and aware of it themselves.

Here's what I don't get. The old-school hockey people continue to complain about these measures taking hitting out of hockey. Players don't seem to want anything to do with that, nor do many fans -- removing hitting, that is.

So why is it that when a player delivers a clean but vicious hit in today's NHL, they have to "answer the bell" as Ryan Kesler of the Canucks put it? I understand fully the concept of a guy having to answer for a bad hit. After all, that's one of the biggest arguments people use for justifying fighting in hockey, the enforcers are out there to discourage the other team from taking cheap shots at your teammates. If any liberties are taken, then you'll have the liberty of meeting the other team's tough guy.

As long as fighting is "allowed" -- I'll play along with Gary Bettman's semantics game that fighting isn't allowed, it is punished -- I have no qualms about a player having to answer to somebody's fists about a bad hit. That's a case of reaping what you sew when you add a couple of the bad stitches into the equation.

But enough is enough with fights after good, clean hits. Nothing is going to take hitting out of the game faster than players having to face a fight for every good check they deliver.

It happens on a seemingly nightly basis in the NHL. The best, most recent example came on Wednesday night in a game between the Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks. It was after that game that Kesler talked about answering the bell. What he was referring to was a bit hit levied on him by Niklas Kronwall. Here's a look at the play.

Could the Canucks have some beef with the hit? OK, a little. Kronwall did leave the ice to make the hit, but it was a man coming at him with the puck on his stick. Also, right or wrong, there was no penalty given on the play. Still, Kesler was revved up and obviously wanted a piece of Kronwall.

“I like the hit, but my only problem with the hit is that he doesn’t stand up for himself,” Kesler said. “If you're going hit guys like that, you're going to have to drop the gloves.

“I gotta get my head up. Obviously you see him backing up and you know that’s his move there. I think you have to put the blame on the ‘hittee’ a little bit, but I also think he’s gotta stand up for himself.”

The always vocal Kevin Bieksa put his two cents in on the situation as well.

"Because how sneaky it is, it's a little bit dirty," Bieksa said after the game. "If you're going to do that, you should pay the price and he hasn't paid the price yet. So he loses a little respect in my book."

So let me get this straight: Kesler had no problems with the hit and even implicated himself for part of the responsibility but thinks Kronwall still needs to put his dukes up? Why? Because, as Bieksa puts it, it was sneaky? If you have no problems with the actual hit, then requesting the guy to fight isn't the answer. You guys still have more time to play, you are free to hit Kronwall in return.

Thanks to the magic of HBO and 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic we saw another example of this concept at work.

In the Rangers' recent visit to the Phoenix Coyotes, Mike Rupp was seen laying a good, solid hit along the boards on Kyle Chipchura. Moments later he is being jumped by the Coyotes' Raffi Torres, whereupon the refs immediately come in and are insisting to Torres it was a clean hit from Rupp. (NSFW Warning: In case you didn't know, NHL players -- and the refs -- have potty mouths. You've been warned.)

As a side note, maybe the most interesting part of the second episode was following the refs into their locker room where they discussed the hit a little further.

Now neither of this incident or the Kronwall/Kesler one resulted in a fight, but that wasn't for the lack of trying from the instigators. There have been plenty of other hits this season that have led to fights after what the referees and later the NHL deemed were OK hits.

Quite frankly, players getting aggressive toward others for clean hits is as threatening to hitting in the game as any league official. If guys are going to have to "answer the bell" when players come knocking after a good hit, then in essence the players themselves are discouraging hitting among their fellow athletes.

It almost feels like a machismo thing to me. A guy gets clobbered during play so he has to save face and get the guy back. Not to sound like a cranky old man, but I'm tired of it.

Don't read this as an anti-fighting column. It's not that. Instead it is anti-stupid fighting. Asking guys to drop the gloves are good hits is a waste of time -- literally as the player will have to sit at least five minutes if he gets the fight. Just get back up and play hockey.

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

Posted on: December 22, 2011 9:25 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 9:27 pm

Nick Foligno ejected; Should he have been?

By: Adam Gretz

Senators forward Nick Foligno was ejected early in the second period of his team's game against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night for charging Keaton Ellerby.

Is that a good call? I think it's tough, and at first glance that appears to be more of a nasty collision than a dirty hit, especially when you watch the second and third angles in slow motion.

Foligno has found himself in the middle of a few controverial plays this season, most of which he was on the receivin end of, including the elbow from Sidney Crosby that sparked a near month-long debate, as well as a recent knee-on-knee hit from Boston's Adam McQuaid.

In a game against Vancouver earlier this month he delivered a pair of huge hits, one of which resulted in a boarding call and a game misconduct.

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

Posted on: December 22, 2011 2:43 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 2:57 pm

Pens' Deryk Engelland suspended three games

By Brian Stubits

Deryk Engelland of the Pittsburgh Penguins delivered a pretty reckless hit on Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger. It was a game-changing play in that the only penalty that resulted was an instigator penalty on Chicago's John Scott for the ensuing fight with Engelland. The Penguins scored on the ensuing penalty and won the game 3-2.

Well it took a couple of days, but Engelland was punished after all.

Department of Player Safety head Brendan Shanahan announced on Thursday that Engelland will be suspended three games for the hit. Here is his customary video.

This was one of the most clean-cut and easiest calls Shanahan has had so far. The explanation video is brief and doesn't give much in the way of a defense for Engelland at all.

The overriding factors are easy to see. Engelland launched himself off the ice to make the hit. More egregious was the fact that he finished the hit so high that his hands were elevated well above his own head on the follow through. Shanahan notes that Engelland had Kruger lined up for what could have been a clean hit but instead rose off the ice and made the head the principle point of the contact.

Also important to note for Shanahan is the fact that Kruger was diagnosed with a concussion. Whether you think it is right or not, injuries are taken into consideration for Shanahan on his judgments.

I think only the blindest of Penguins homers can complain about this decision. The baffling part is that the referees didn't make the call on the ice and it hamstrung the Blackhawks. It resulted in a quiet and obviously angry locker room after the game and has led to Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews preaching music to almost every hockey fan's ears in his disdain for the instigator penalty.

More NHL Discipline News Here

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

Posted on: December 20, 2011 10:54 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2011 10:59 pm

Deryk Engelland's hit on Marcus Kruger (Video)

By: Adam Gretz

PITTSBURGH -- One of the most talked about plays during Pittsburgh's 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night was Deryk Engelland's hit (as seen in the above video) on Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger in the first period. Even though Engelland was not penalized, it turned out to be a huge play in the game, and perhaps a decisive play.

Not only was it a questionable hit that will probably get a second look from the NHL, but the Penguins actually came away with a power play in the aftermath due to a fight between Engelland and Blackhawks forward John Scott, arguably the toughest and most intimidating heavyweight in the NHL. Both players were assessed five minute majors for fighting, while Scott picked up an additional instigator penalty as well as a 10-minute misconduct. The Penguins eventually scored on the ensuing power play thanks to Chris Kunitz's 12th goal of the season, and in a game that was decided by a single goal, that's an early (and huge) turning point.

Kruger was able to return to the game briefly, taking a couple of shifts throughout the remainder of the first period, but did not get a single shift over the final 40 minutes of regulation. After the game Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said, "He's doing OK now, but we'll see tomorrow, we'll have a better idea of how he's doing. Tough hit, high hit. Tough area, tough spot."

Even though Scott's instigator penalty put the Blackhawks down a man and resulted in a goal against, his teammates were quite accepting of the additional penalty he took in an effort to stick up for his teammate.

"We have to find a way to kill that off for him," said forward Viktor Stalberg. "That's why we have him in the lineup some nights, he did what he's supposed to do."

"I'm always going to stand up for my teammates," said Scott. "I'm going to do that everytime, no matter who it is. I think anybody else on the team would have done the same thing."

The question now becomes whether or not the NHL has an issue with Engelland's hit. The first angle is difficult to see how much, if any, contact was made with the head, but when you look at the second and third angles it becomes a little more clear that Kruger took a hit to the head.

"I'm sure they'll take a look at it," said Stalberg. "I think we felt like he left his feet a little bit there."

More NHL Discipline News Here

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

Posted on: December 19, 2011 6:20 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 6:49 pm

Rene Bourque gets two games for boarding Seabrook

By Brian Stubits

Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque was suspended two games by Brendan Shanahan on Monday for his boarding of Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook on Sunday night.

The hit came in the opening period of the game when Seabrook got stalled a little bit by the referee, losing the puck on the ref's skates. A moment later he was heading face first into the boards as a result of a Bourque check. Bourque was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for the hit.

Seabrook left the game and didn't return, although the Blackhawks said it was more precautionary (we also heard that with Marc Staal and Sidney Crosby at points this season, so keep your fingers crossed, Chicago).

As is the case with most every suspension, the problem here is that Bourque delivers the hit squarely from behind, staring right at Seabrook's number. Every player in the NHL has to know by now that that is as good as a big red X -- don't hit!

One of the questionable parts about this hit was the role that Seabrook losing the puck in the referee's skates played. Shanahan explained why that didn't impact the decision.

"Seabrook loses control of the puck and then his stick makes contact with the skate of the referee," Shanahan said. "However, neither cause him to significantly turn his body immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit from Bourque. Despite the fact that Seabrook is looking back and to his right, Bourque continues his pursuit and finishes Seabrook high and forcefully from behind, driving Seabrook's head into the boards.

"Although losing the puck in the referee's feet may cause Seabrook to look back and might eventually cause him to turn, contact is made before he does. Seabrook is neither falling nor turning to any degree to absolve Bourque of responsibility."

Last night I had originally said that my call would be for no suspension as bad as the hit might have looked. Well I must have been tired because looking at the slow-motion replays, it does look pretty bad. I was sort of taking it for granted that Seabrook had turned back for the puck already, but as Shanny points out, he really hadn't turned yet.

Fair ruling?

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

Posted on: December 19, 2011 3:09 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 6:54 pm

Milan Lucic suspended 1 game

By: Adam Gretz

Zac Rinaldo said he was fine with the hit from Boston's Milan Lucic over the weekend. The NHL, however, was not fine with it.

The league announced on Monday afternoon that the Bruins forward has been suspended one game for his hit from behind during his team's 6-0 win over the Flyers on Saturday afternoon. Lucic will miss Monday's home game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Lucic was issued a five-minute major and a game misconduct for hitting Rinaldo into the boards from behind late in the second period, which was part of an extremely physical game that Boston dominated on the scoreboard from the opening faceoff.

Even though Lucic was ejected for the hit, Rinaldo was quick to come to his defense.

“It’s hockey, you hit and go into the boards, I don’t think it was dirty at all,” said Rinaldo via Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly. “Shoulder-to-shoulder and just momentum. He’s big guy, maybe double my weight. His momentum carried him into the boards awkwardly. I don’t think it was dirty at all.”

Lucic responded again on Monday after the suspension was announced, taking his medicine.

"I don't think anyone's ever happy when they get suspended," Lucic said. "But you have to respect any decision they make. I do everything my power to keep it clean out there. I try my full-on best to follow [the NHL's] rules [on hitting].

Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's disciplinary czar, did not agree.

"In spite of the fact Lucic sees Rinaldo's numbers and proximity to the boards, Lucic delivers a dangerous check from behind," said Shanahan. "Rinaldo makes no sudden movement either just prior to or simultaneous with the hit that contributes to making this an illegal check. Therefore, the onus is on Lucic to avoid this hit completely, or at the very least minimize it to a greater degree. Instead, Lucic follows through with his check driving Rinaldo high and hard into the glass."

Shanahan also added that Lucic's history of similar infractions, warnings and fines went into the decision to suspend him, as did the fact that Rinaldo suffered no apparent injury as a result of the play.

More NHL Discipline News Here

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

Posted on: December 18, 2011 10:44 pm
Edited on: December 18, 2011 10:55 pm

Rene Bourque ejected for boarding Brent Seabrook

By Brian Stubits

The fans of the Blackhawks were left holding their breath in the opening period of their 4-2 win over the Calgary Flames on Sunday night. That's because star defenseman Brent Seabrook took a very rough and dangerous hit from Rene Bourque into the boards.

Seabrook stayed down on the ice for a few moments and was eventually helped to the locker room. He did not return in the game.

Bourque was given a five-minute major for boarding on the play as well as a game misconduct.

Before going any further, have a look at the hit.

The good news is that after the game, coach Joel Quenneville -- who picked up his 600th career win -- said that Seabrook appeared to be doing OK. "He seemed not bad after the game," Quennevill said. "We’ll know more [Monday]."

So for a player that has had a history with taking some rough head shots, that's very encouraging. More will come out on his status in coming days.

But of course the next order of business these days becomes questioning the legality of the hit that caused the injury and whether or not Brendan Shanahan will find it to be suspension worthy.

Like most, this one is very much debatable. The biggest issue is the fact that Seabrook is moving up the boards until he loses the puck and gets his stick stalled by the referee's skates, leading him to turn back and reach for the puck. That's when Bourque came in with the hit.

In the end, Bourque does deliver a hit to the numbers of an opponent. But he has a pretty good case here that he committed to the hit before Seabrook reached back and that Seabrook's change of position immediately prior to the hit led to it being dangerous. Plus, when discussing intent as Shanahan often does, it seems to be judging by Bourque's reaction immediately after the hit shows it wasn't his intent to hurt. It makes me uneasy trying to figure out what a player's intention is in these cases, but it's something Shanahan considers.

What we do know is that the hit is going to be reviewed closely by the NHL. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see a suspension levied, but personally I'd err on the side of no suspension if it were my call. What's your take?

More NHL Discipline News Here

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

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com