OTTAWA - While the hockey world’s eyes were on Sidney Crosby’s return to the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup Monday night, the Senators had an eye turned toward the NHL’s chief disciplinarian.
The Senators are wondering if NHL VP of safety Brendan Shanahan takes action against either Alex Burrows or Andrew Alberts of the Vancouver Canucks.
While Alberts’ hit from behind on Kaspars Daugavins will automatically be reviewed, Shanahan’s challenge is to decide what happened with Burrows when Maxim Lapierre slammed Jesse Winchester into an open Canucks bench door in the first period of Sunday’s game.
It’s up to Shanahan to decide if he’s going to take any action or accept Burrows’ explanation that the door wasn’t latched.
“There was a change coming and he was hit pretty good on the door there,” said Burrows. “It was locked, but not really fully completely. I felt bad for Jesse, (he’s) one of my friends. Good thing he didn’t get hurt on the play.”
The Senators don’t expect Burrows will be suspended — he’ll likely escape with a stern warning — probably not enough to appease the Senators, who already feel slighted by Shanahan.
Winchester said after the game the play was “unsafe,” but didn’t know the intent.
He was bracing himself to be hit into the boards and then found himself sitting at Burrows’ feet on the bench.
Burrows was accused of biting Patrice Bergeron’s finger during a scrum in last season’s Stanley Cup final against Boston, but there was no suspension because the league couldn’t find conclusive evidence.
That could be the issue with the incident in Vancouver. If Shanahan can find good video footage, will he take swift action?
During the last GM’s meetings in Toronto, Shanahan spent much of the day explaining decisions he’d made to suspend (eight games for Columbus D James Wisniewski) and not to suspend (Wojtek Wolski on Daniel Alfredsson).
The decision not to suspended Wolski bordered on ridiculous, but Shanahan didn’t see anything wrong with the hit. His “get tough on crime” approach didn’t exactly work in this scenario and some league executives saw it that way.
Alfredsson suffered a concussion and missed six games.
“I thought he should have given Wolski a game just out of respect for Daniel Alfredsson,” said one executive.
When Shanahan took over from Colin Campbell, complainers wanted rules that existed across the board.
There always appeared to be one set of rules for the stars and another for the foot soldiers.
The rules shouldn’t be different, of course.
Suspending Burrows would send a message the NHL won’t put up with hijinx.
I saw Magnus Arvedson get nailed into an open bench door in January, 2000, in Philly (accidentally) and it ruined what could have been a good career.
Winchester got off lucky. He was fine. That doesn’t mean Shanahan shouldn’t do something. It’s time for this so-called new sheriff in town to start putting tighter handcuffs on some of these offenders.
This season's suspensions (in games)
- Chris Stewart STL (3): Checking from behind
- Patrick Kaleta BUF (4): Headbutt
- Daniel Carcillo CHI (2): Check from behind
- Andy Sutton EDM (5): Elbowing incident
- Kris Letang PIT (2): Boarding
- P.M. Bouchard MIN (2): High stick
- Clarke MacArthur TOR (2): Hit to the head
- Brendan Smith DET (5): Hit to the head
- J.F. Jacques ANA (5): Leaving bench to fight
- Brad Staubitz MIN (4): Check from behind
- James Wisniewski CBJ (8): Hit to the head
- Jody Shelley PHI (5): Boarding infraction
- Tom Sesito PHI (3): Hit from behind
- Pierre Letourneau-Leblond CAL (1): Boarding
* These are regular-season games only missed. Some of these incidents occurred in the exhibition season.