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Off the Ice: Shaw suspension shows deep flaws in NHL discipline

I’m not here to argue the Andrew Shaw suspension. He made contact with Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith’s head. He took a dangerous line on a protected player. He had both time and space to alter his course or slow down to make a play on the puck; he did neither. Shaw deserved his three-game suspension.

But the Shaw Decision, as I’ve come to term it, is one of the only proper suspensions that has been doled out in the postseason thus far. The controversy that flew via Twitter on Tuesday did not focus on the hit, but the joke that is known at the NHL Office of Player Safety and its main man, Brendan Shanahan.

While suspensions and fines are already running rampant, few are accurate and there is zero consistency against hockey players coming out of the office that is in charge of one thing: protecting hockey players.

When Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber slammed Detroit Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg’s face into the glass by physically grasping him and throwing him, he got a slap on the wrist and an incredibly small fine, albeit the maximum permitted by the league. In comparison, Ottawa Senators forward Zenon Konopka was fined the same amount as Weber for verbal abuse of a player. Something tells me having your face shoved into glass and your helmet broken hurts a lot more than a few hurtful words.

The main issue in Shaw’s suspension was his targeting of the head and that Smith was a goaltender. If we just focus on the head-targeting and leave the receiving player’s position aside, the NHL has been all over the place in the postseason with suspensions. From Vancouver’s Byron Bitz getting two games, to New York Rangers’ Carl Hagelin getting three and Weber’s pittance, there has been zero consistency coming out of the disciplinary office, leading to sentiments that some teams and series are being preferred over others. That’s not good.