September 23, 2011
Sheriff Shanahan lays down the lawComes down hard on Shelley for hit on Boyce
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Lights! Camera! Suspension!
Brendan Shanahan promised transparency in his new role as NHL disciplinarian and delivered impressively on Thursday. The only complaints with the new NHL-produced video that featured a nattily attired Shanahan explaining the sentence would be from Jody Shelley and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, the villians in both minute-long clips.
Shelley received the harshest suspension, 10 games, split between the rest of the pre-season and the Flyers’ first five regular-season games, after he rammed Maple Leaf Darryl Boyce face-first into the glass at the Wells Fargo Centre. Boyce had his nose broken, while Letourneau-Leblond was booted for the rest of Calgary’s exhibition schedule and its season opener, for a similar hit that rattled Matt Clackson of Vancouver.
In a total departure from predecessor Colin Campbell, Shanahan appeared in studio, introduced himself, set up an isolation replay, then outlined how Shelley violated Rule 41. He also mentioned that the injury and Shelley’s status as repeat offender twice last season “weighed heavily” in his decision. The Letourneau-Leblond suspension was handled in similar fashion.
Shelley expected to get some kind of punishment, but was a little shocked when informed and told Philly.com that Shanahan used him to “set the tone in a sense” for such cases in 2011-12. Shanahan had vowed to get tough in this recent rash of serious injuries as well as clarify to players, fans and media the thinking behind suspensions. Campbell was often cited for being inconsistent, though he had a hard task through many changes in the league rule book.
Flyers’ parent company president Peter Luukko noted to Philly.com the league had followed through on its pledge to deal harshly with head shots.
“When it’s your own player, you always think it’s wrong,” Lukko said. “The important thing is that it’s consistent all year.”
The suspension came down late Thursday after the Leafs had departed workouts at the MasterCard Centre. Boyce was able to finish Wednesday’s game and partake in a full practice. Teammate Jay Rosehill jumped in to fight Shelley and landed some early blows, though Boyce seemed in a forgiving mood a day later.
“It was just a split-second decision and I’m sure he didn’t mean to do it,” Boyce said. “It’s part of the game. (But) it’s tough to look at it on tape afterwards and slow it down. It’s definitely not that slow when you are out there on the ice. At this point, I’ll just let the new boss (Shanahan) take the reins.”
Toronto’s Ron Wilson was Shelley’s coach in San Jose and has known him “a number of years”.
“He’s feeling remorse,” Wilson assured. “He doesn’t play that way. It just happened.”
Wilson is in the NHL school of thought that some dangerous collisions are inevitable in a fast-paced contact sport. Yet he says players know the risks.
“We have laws against speeding, right?,” Wilson said. “We have drunk driving laws, you can be executed if you murder somebody, but it doesn’t stop this stuff from happening. There is human nature involved. The game is very fast. You stop thinking for a split second and those kinds of things happen.
“He caught (Boyce) in a vulnerable position, he gave him a little extra oomph behind it and that’s one of the things (the league) is talking about (eliminating). If a player deliberately at the last second turns (into the hit), it’s not going to be a penalty. When the guy who is going to be hitting doesn’t have a chance to react, it will be the (other player’s) fault. In that situation it wasn’t.”