September 23, 2011
Shanahan's videos a hit
By BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency
There’s no Emmy yet, but Brendan Shanahan’s videos appear to be a hit with NHL players.
The senior vice-president of player safety came down hard in suspending Jody Shelley and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond.
But it is the manner in which the suspensions were announced and explained that has impressed players. Shanahan, in a very professional manner on nhl.com, shows via video what happened on the plays, explains why the hits are illegal, and then explains why players are being suspended for a certain length of time.
“I think that’s exactly what’s been missing for fans and players alike,” said the Leafs’ Joffrey Lupul on Friday. “The past couple years we’ve seen suspensions, some have been long ones, and in other cases there weren’t any suspensions, and we’re in the same boat as the fans saying: ‘Why is that not a suspension.’”
Lupul said the process lacked clarity under Shanahan’s predeceasor, Colin Campbell. “There were some hits and you’d say: ‘Ok, that was dirty hit’. And, the guy would get two games. Then you’d see another one and the guy would get eight. You were never quite sure why, or what.”
Shelley got five regular season games for hitting Toronto’s Darryl Boyce from behind. Letourneau-Leblond got one regular-season game. Both also are suspended for the rest of the pre-season.
“He’s breaking it down step by step, almost frame by frame. You can agree or disagree with the suspension but it explains everything to you which will take away some of the grey areas if the players watch the videos,” said Lupul.
The Leafs watched the videos Friday and while Lupul was uncertain if it would change players’ habits it does provide them with a better understanding of what is illegal. “It’s pretty clear that if you’re going to hit a guy from behind who is turned the whole the time, then he’s going to throw the book at you. All the guys in here saw it and hopefully everybody realizes that you can’t do that or you’re going to cost your team, as well as yourself.”
It’s been a difficult week for the centrepiece of Toronto’s new No. 1 line.
First of all, there was that uninspiring opening to the pre-season against Philadelphia. Then there is the personal side.
Tim Connolly missed Thursday’s workouts for what were announced as “personal” matters. He had to return to Buffalo to attend the funeral of his grandmother, Mary.
So, maybe, it’s a good time for his former team, the Buffalo Sabres, to show up Friday night. “It should be a fun game and I’m looking forward to it,” said Connolly, looking decidedly low-key about the first meeting with the club that let him go after almost 10 seasons last fall. “I haven’t thought about it too much. I’m sure it will be a little weird going out there at first seeing the old faces and the old uniform.”
Connolly, forwards Phil Kessel and Lupul were playing their second game together as a line. “You just want to win the game. We’ve only played one exhibition game and we lost so I hope it comes against my former team,” he said before the puck drop.
Lupul says it will take some time for the Leafs’ new line combinations to reach their potential. In other words, fans, remember a three-game win streak or a hat trick in September isn’t going to win a Stanley Cup.
“We’re just trying to get better each night out. The first pre-season game was kind of a tough night,” Lupul said prior to Friday’s Buffalo game. ”It is tough the first couple games. You’re playing against different players.”
Translated that means against a lot of gung-ho kids with something to prove who don’t know when to slow down and make life vexing for those players who already know they’ve got a spot won.
The Leafs are also still implementing new wrinkles themselves. “We’re trying some new systems so it’s a bit of a feeling out process,” said Lupul.
So, nobody press any panic buttons. There’s plenty of time to do that during a long, long season.
Tyler Bozak skated in the morning pre-game skate at the Air Canada Centre but coach Ron Wilson said he wouldn’t play because he was “a little banged up” ... The Leafs had their top two lines in tact for the game as Wilson starts to give his regulars more ice time. “We’re fine-tuning and our regular players have to start to prepare and be cohesive” ... With Bozak sidelined, Boyce moved up from the fourth line to play with Nazem Kadri and Matt Frattin. Interesting combination because Kadri and Frattin could be playing for the same roster spot ... Mike Zigomanus, who originally wasn’t scheduled to play, moved onto the fourth line with Colton Orr and Joey Crabb.