Like most sheriffs, Brendan Shanahan rode into town with his guns blazing, promising a new brand of justice. And he even had the fancy title of “senior vice-president, player safety” to back him up.
And it worked for a little while, but if the ridiculous $2,500 fine to Dominic Moore of the Tampa Bay Lightning for his blatant cheap shot on Ruslan Fedotenko of the New York Rangers is concerned, Shanahan is progressively lowering his standards and dragging the game back down to the level of tolerance for violence that constantly gave a black eye to the NHL prior to his arrival.
As David Byrne of the Talking Heads sang in the hit song Once in a Lifetime, “Same as it ever was.”
You may ask yourself, how did Shanahan come to such an inane decision? Well, he very clearly explained himself when he took to Twitter by saying: “One replay clearly shows (Moore’s) back making contact with RF’s STICK, causing it to hit RF in the face.”
That’s pathetic. Someone should pull Shanahan aside and remind him of his title and the name of the department he leads. His job is to be concerned with player safety, not rationalizing miscreant behavior by putting a ridiculous spin on it. Apologists for hockey violence have been doing that for years.
But Shanahan was supposed to represent change. The Moore hit was one that met the criteria of being on a vulnerable player who was not playing the puck, there was direct contact with head (by the stick, which was caused by the reckless hit!) and the player was injured on the play. All ingredients for a suspension, but watered down into a fine.
Like so many things when it comes to the league, so much promise is eroding into so few results.
LEAFS SEASON STANDARD FARE
If someone had told you before the season the Toronto Maple Leafs would enter mid-February in eighth place in the Eastern Conference by one point, you probably would have thought that would be about right, no?
Then why all the consternation over a three-game losing streak? The reality is the Leafs playoff fortunes will almost certainly go down to the final weekend of the season and they’ll finish somewhere between seventh and 10th. That’s right about where they belong at this point in their development as a team.
What confounds even more is the surprise over Tim Connolly’s lack of production. Anyone who has watched Connolly or followed his career – including Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke before he signed Connolly to a two-year deal worth $9.5 million – could plainly detect a pattern. Connolly always has been, and always will be, a player whose production is measured on the feast or famine scale.
And those who took a real critical look at this player would also know this facet of his game had nothing to do with injuries and everything to do with the fact he seems to pick his spots when to be inspired.
COMPARING IMPRESSIVE WINNING STREAKS
The Detroit Red Wings have exactly 15 home games remaining and if they win them all, they’ll break the Montreal Canadiens record for the longest home undefeated streak in history of 34 games.
With the advent of overtime and the shootout, it’s interesting to compare these records with teams that did not have the benefit (or possible disadvantage) of the extra-point system.
For example, if the Red Wings defeat the Dallas Stars Tuesday night, they’ll break the record for consecutive home wins in a season with 21. But the 1929-30 Boston Bruins and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers had to win all 20 of their games in three periods, since overtime was not introduced into the NHL until 1983-84. The Red Wings, by contrast, have won one in overtime and three in a shootout.
Now when it comes to the undefeated home record, the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens won 28 games and tied six. In that case, though, they get the benefit of not having to have played those overtimes and/or shootouts, any one of which they might have lost. (Although the ’76-77 Canadiens were one of the best teams in the history of the game and you could make the argument they would have won all of them and had a 34 game home winning streak.) Should the Red Wings lose a game at home in overtime or a shootout, their undefeated streak at home will be snapped.
In the Department of Relatively Interesting But Useless Information: Dwight King, who scored his first two career points over the weekend, is the first-ever player by the name of King to suit up for the Kings. It’s a shame junior defenseman Joe Ranger never played for the Rangers (although he was drafted by them in 1986 and played for the Kitchener Rangers), nor did former NHL defenseman Paul Ranger. Former NHL goalie John Blue should have played in St. Louis, just as Miroslav Satan should have suited up for the New Jersey Devils and Garth Snow for the Colorado Avalanche…
Introducing the 2011-12 Jack Adams Award winner, Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues…
How on Earth could the Chicago Blackhawks lose eight games in a row and still be in a playoff spot in the Western Conference by five points? For all this much-ballyhooed parity that’s supposed to exist, the bottom feeders in both conferences are pretty lousy teams when you think of it…
A good friend of mine claims there are some teams that, no matter how good they are on paper or even in reality, are destined to never win. “They’re losers. That’s what they do,” he says. It defies logic, but I’m beginning to think that’s exactly the case with the Washington Capitals.
Ken Campbell is the senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com with his column. To read more from Ken and THN's other stable of experts, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.