Little more than five minutes into the second period of Tuesday’s game between the Blackhawks and Islanders, Shaw and Nelson tangled up along the boards and remained engaged for a few seconds after the puck had left the area. That’s when Shaw caught Nelson in the face with the top of his helmet. As Shaw skated away, the referee blew the play dead and Shaw was escorted to the penalty box:
On the initial look, it’s hard to see what happened on the far side of the ice, but the replay shows clearly the two got engaged and Shaw used his head to shove Nelson out of the way.
The case for suspending Shaw: The referees deemed the play violent enough to warrant a five-minute major and game misconduct, and, while there’s no immediate suspension for a play of this ilk, it’s blatant contact with an opponents head. It’s also an entirely reckless play that has no place in the game. Whether it was reactionary or not, Shaw should know better.
The case against suspending Shaw: Both Shaw and Nelson remained engaged, and, while it’s near impossible to put the onus on Nelson here, there’s a chance the Department of Player Safety sees Shaw’s case that he was being held on to. It also could appear incidental, but that’s hard to believe. The case against suspending Shaw isn’t fantastic.
What will come into play when the Department of Player Safety makes their ruling is that Shaw has received supplemental discipline in the past. Granted, he hasn’t been suspended since April 2012, when he missed the final three games of the Blackhawks first round series (and season) for colliding with Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith.