Suspend him or not: Andrew Shaw decks Barret Jackman with launching check

Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw has found himself walking the tightrope between suspension and sticking in the lineup for the second time in less than a month. In Sunday’s game against St. Louis, Shaw caught Barret Jackman with a leaping, blindside hit that earned him a two-minute minor for charging. He could, however, find himself suspended if the Department of Player Safety deems the hit worth of supplemental discipline.

Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw hasn’t been suspended in nearly three full years, but he’s certainly been walking a razor-thin line between staying in the lineup and being forced out by suspension over the past month.

In mid-March, Shaw landed a headbutt to the chin of New York Islanders’ center Brock Nelson that felled the rookie and drew the ire of those who believed it should have been a suspension. Luckily for Shaw, no such disciplinary action was taken and he skated free. He might not, however, get away so easily following a launching hit he threw on St. Louis Blues’ defenseman Barret Jackman:

Early in the second period of Sunday’s game between St. Louis and Chicago — a game in which the two sides were jockeying for position in the Central Division — Jackman curled behind the Blues net to pick up the puck. Shaw, recognizing Jackman didn’t see him coming from the other side of the net, leapt into Jackman, delivering a massive hit. Shaw was issued a two-minute minor for charging on the play.

The case for suspending Shaw: Though it will likely have little impact on whether or not the Department of Player Safety considers the play suspendable, this is the second time Shaw has been involved in some borderline play in less than three weeks. All the elements of a dangerous his are present, too. Jackman doesn’t see Shaw coming, Shaw launches himself upwards into the head area of Jackman and, if you count the strides Shaw takes to deliver the hit, it’s clear he went out of his way to deliver the dangerous check.

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The case against suspending Shaw: What could be the tipping point in Shaw’s favor is that Jackman was not injured on the play. He got up and challenged Shaw immediately following the hit and was able to play in the rest of the contest. In addition, the referees saw the hit as nothing more than a minor penalty, which could also weigh on the decision made by the Department of Player Safety. Shaw hasn’t been suspended since April 17, 2012 when he was handed a three-game ban for contact with Arizona Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith.

If the play doesn’t result in a suspension for Shaw, it would be high time that he counts his lucky stars that the Department of Player Safety hasn’t seen fit to sideline him for at least a couple of games. Continued reckless play is sure to get Shaw in trouble and, on top of that, will keep putting the Blackhawks in an odd-manned situation. Heading into the playoffs, there couldn’t be a worse time for Shaw to be teetering on the brink of a suspension.