October 20, 2010
Shame on ShinniminAmericans player slammed by league for dangerous hit on Nicholls
By SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency
Richard Doerksen had to come down hard.
And he did.
The WHL's disciplinarian handed a 12-game ban to Tri-City Americans forward Brendan Shinnimin last week.
The suspension -- the longest in the league over the past four seasons -- was the result of a dangerous hit-from-behind that left Saskatoon Blades right-winger Josh Nicholls with a concussion and a bruised back.
But take one glance at the incident at calgarysun.com/whl_hit, and it's obvious it could have been so much worse.
The league has done its part.
Every player must watch a video prior to the season outlining what will not be tolerated.
"They all watch a video, and there is a segment where I tell the players about the dangerous hits," Doerksen told the Tri-City Herald.
"The captain of the team signs off that all members of the team have watched and understood the video and what we are trying to convey.
"We tell the players we want hitting in the game, but we don't want hitting from behind. We want them to play in a safe environment."
Nicholls, who missed just one game, thought Shinnimin should have received a stiffer sentence and said he feels lucky to escape relatively unscathed.
"I can remember every-thing," Nicholls told the Prince Albert Daily Herald. "I was just having trouble breathing, and my back was kind of sore.
"I've watched (the replay) quite a few times now. It's definitely something that is scary to watch. You kind of have to cringe. It's something that you don't like seeing."
Nicholls, who has 11 points in eight games this season, is a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect.
The hit, which caused him to fly head-first into the boards at a high rate of speed, received media attention down east.
The Blades sniper said the hit was comparable to last season's Michael Liambas incident that resulted in the former Erie Otters player being kicked out of the Ontario Hockey League.
"Just like that Liambas hit last year, I think it could even be worse than that," Nicholls told the P.A. Herald. "It's just the fact that I didn't crack my skull or anything serious like that. It's not all over the place, and it's not (considered) that serious, but I think it's just as bad as that one."
Shinnimin, a Winnipeg product, was tied for the league lead in scoring with 13 points in seven games.
The 19-year-old, who called Nicholls to apologize, disagreed his indiscretion is on the same page as Liambas' or that of former Team Canada world junior captain Patrice Cormier.
"It was obviously a bad hit -- the hit I made -- but I didn't intend to injure him," Shinnimin told the P.A. Herald. "I didn't go for the head or anything like that. I was just backchecking pretty hard, and I gave him a bump, and he went into the boards pretty awkwardly.
"I wouldn't compare it to anything like those hits where they were maybe intentional or a target. That's not my role, and that's not really what I do."
Whether it was intentional really isn't the issue.
Nicholls could have easily suffered a life-threatening injury on the play, and the league needed to send a message.
If Nicholls had been seriously hurt, Shinnimin would likely be sitting until at least Christmas, if not longer.
The league is sending the right messages.
Now, it's up to the players to listen.