Jets in support of Shanahan
NHL disciplinarian lauded by coach, players
TED WYMAN, QMI Agency
|Jets head coach Claude Noel said NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan is doing ‘a wonderful job’ in sending a message about illegal hits. (MARIANNE HELM/Getty Images/AFP)
WINNIPEG - New NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan has been meting out swift and severe justice throughout the pre-season and you won’t hear any complaints about it from the Winnipeg Jets.
Shanahan’s latest ban, an eight-game sentence to Brendan Smith of the Detroit Red Wings for a head shot, came Friday. It was the eighth suspension Shanahan has handed down since becoming the new sheriff in town in the off-season.
Shanahan, who played a rough and tumble game himself during his NHL career, is sending a strong message to all the players, both with his stiff punishments and his detailed explanations, which include videos.
It’s all a step in the right direction, says Jets pugilistic forward Tanner Glass.
“The transparency is the best part about it,” Glass said before the Jets took on the Nashville Predators at MTS Centre Friday night.
“He’s doing a good job of showing us what is going to be acceptable and what’s not. He’s going right to the video and right to the written rule and showing guys word for word.”
Jets coach Claude Noel was raving about Shanahan’s work. The NHL can only get better by cleaning up its act when it comes to unnecessary violence and Shanahan is doing his best to change the culture of the game.
“He’s doing a wonderful job,” Noel said. “He’s setting new standards for the betterment of the game. He wants to put a wrap on this stuff.
“He’s been pretty severe and pretty harsh but it sends a pretty clear message.”
Severe penalties now, the longest so far was a 12-game ban given to Columbus defenceman James Wisniewski, will lead players to think before they make reckless plays on the ice. At least, that’s what Glass hopes.
“The suspensions right now are heavy but guys will figure it out very soon,” Glass said. “It will calm down here very soon.”
Many purist hockey fans hope it just doesn’t calm down too much. Hockey without hitting might as well be soccer.
But if there’s a fear Shanahan’s crackdown will lead to a season full of no-hitters, it’s not being publicly spoken about in the Jets dressing room.
“If we can get a little more awareness, I don’t think players will stop hitting but they might be a little more cautious in certain situations,” said defenceman Johnny Oduya. “It’s going to be good for the league.
“There’s always a fine line but I’d rather take a suspension for a couple of games and know that a lot of players are protected. I don’t want to get run over myself and end up with a concussion for the whole season.”
While they support Shanahan’s tough justice at this point, some Jets don’t want to see him or any of the NHL’s other deep thinkers to take it too far.
Going too far would be eliminating fighting.
Shanahan said this week the league is “taking a look” at fighting, though he clarified his comments Friday to make sure people understand that doesn’t necessarily mean taking it right out of the game.
“I think that would be a big mistake,” Glass said when asked about the league’s plan to re-examine fighting. “Fighting is in the fabric of our game and we need to keep it as part of the game.”
Oduya thinks such discussions at the NHL level would be a waste of time.
“Fighting is part of the game and it’s always going to be,” he said. “It’s not something they are going to take out completely. I wouldn’t read too much into that.”
Noel said the bottom line is eliminating fighting would simply be too drastic of a change for hockey.
“I like the physicality of hockey and when that leads to a fight on the ice, I don’t mind it,” he said. “I don’t know where that would lead the National Hockey League.”
Nor do we, Claude.