NEW YORK, N.Y. – Shea Weber escaped suspension after driving Henrik Zetterberg’s head into the glass in Game 1 of the Nashville-Detroit series.
But in handing the Predators captain the maximum US$2,500 fine, NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan said it will affect how he handles “any incidents involving Shea Weber throughout the remainder of the playoffs.”
As time expired in Nashville’s victory Wednesday night, the Predators defenceman responded to a hit from Zetterberg by throwing a punch at his opponent before grabbing him by the head and driving him into the end boards.
“We felt this was a reckless and reactionary play on which Weber threw a glancing punch and then shoved Zetterberg’s head into the glass,” said Shanahan.
Weber said he talked with Shanahan and thought it was a straightforward conversation to play to the edge but not over. He noted that everyone gets “ramped up” during the playoffs.
“It’s a quick game and things happen and it’s an emotional game,” said Weber. “I’m just thankful he’s not hurt, and now we can move forward.”
The Predators could ill afford to lose a player who logs big minutes, especially with defenceman Hal Gill on the sidelines with a lower-body injury.
“Shea’s a big part of our team,” said Predators coach Barry Trotz. “The league does a great job all the time of the reviewing. Nothing gets by them anymore.”
Zetterberg had to look at tape to see what happened and said he thought it looked pretty bad. He said his helmet was cracked and he was a little dizzy at first. Zetterberg did skate Thursday with the Red Wings after passing a baseline test for possible concussion.
But the Red Wings forward didn’t hide his feelings over the fine.
“I thought it was dirty,” Zetterberg said. “I think it was a direct (blow) to my head and look what happened the last few years with all the head injuries. I think that shouldn’t belong in the game.”
Many were surprised Weber’s actions didn’t merit a suspension, especially since the NHL has launched a crack down on hits to the head in recent years.
The incident was reminiscent of a turnbuckle move in professional wrestling and caught the attention of World Wrestling Entertainment. John Laurinaitis, the interim general manager of WWE Raw, tweeted Thursday that Weber “might make good addition” to his roster and attached video of the play.
Game 2 in the series goes Friday night in Nashville.
With files from The Associated Press.