Max Pacioretty confused by Brendan Shanahan’s decision….and who can blame him

Posted: November 29, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I was listening to clips of Max Pacioretty on 98.5 earlier Tuesday night and man did he sound peeved off. He was giving his first public reaction to the National Hockey League’s decision to suspend him for three games and it’s hard not to sympathize with him.

Listen, I’m not contradicting Monday’s blog. Patch deserves the suspension – though it kills me to say that given that he’ll miss a crucial three-game road trip through California that just might decide the Canadiens’ season (and coach Jacques Martin’s fate). It was a dangerous head shot on Kris Letang Saturday night and there’s no place in the League for that kind of hit.

But Pacioretty is quite right to say the players have no idea what’s right and wrong given the nutsy inconsistency of NHL head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan’s decisions on head shots this season. Milan Lucic can do a pretty good job of taking off Buffalo Sabres’ goalie Ryan Miller’s head and there’s no supsension – ’cause he’s a Boston Bruin I guess. Ryan Malone also nearly decapitates the Habs’ Chris Campoli and again there’s no suspension – ’cause the guy getting his head ripped off is a Hab I guess.

“I’d like to see a little bit of consistency,” Pacioretty said on Tuesday. “If the onus was on the hitter every single time I’d be fine with the suspension, but you’ve seen instances where they’ve placed onus on the person receiving the hit as well and that’s why I’m confused and a lot of other players are confused as well.”

What Patch is referring to here is that Shanahan said he was NOT suspending Tampa Bay’s Malone because Campoli changed the position of his head just before the hit. But that’s almost exactly what Letang did Saturday, dropping his head in order to rip a shot in Carey Price’s direction. Pacioretty says he made eye contact with Letang, the Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman saw him coming, but still elected to put his head down to make the shot.
Pacioretty really sounded genuinely upset and you gotta know he was thinking – ‘WTF! I nearly got killed by Zdeno Chara, with a hit from behind. The guy slammed my head into a partition at the Bell Centre, I was carried off the ice on a stretcher, taken to the hospital and might never have played hockey again. And Chara? He got nada!’
Why not just give an automatic two-game suspension for a head shot? How complicated is that? But instead Shanahan’s inconsistency has folks – and particularly Habs fans – wondering if the League doesn’t have it in for the bleu-blanc-et-rouge.
  1. cleanhead says:

    The problem is that Shanahan’s inconsistency is preventing the players from making the game safer. The mistake in judgment is not on the Pacioretty suspension, it’s on the non-suspensions given out to Malone and Lucic earlier this year. The idea is to remove hits to the head from the game. It’s a laudable goal.

    But, if there is no punishment given in a circumstance such as Malone’s or Lucic’s, when heads were contacted and injury occurred, then what is any player to think about what is permissible?

    Pacioretty made a hockey play against Letang. Unfortunately, in his move, which came–or at least was initiated–from Letang’s blind side, Pacioretty’s shoulder came in contact with Letang’s head. A suspension is warranted. But would Pacioretty have made the same calculation in the split-second he had if Malone had received a suspension?

    We don’t know that.

    Further confusing the issue is that Pacioretty was making an instinctive hockey play, one that he’s been drilled to do since he could play contact hockey. He was trying to prevent a scoring opportunity. I could see no intent on his part to make contact with Letang’s head. Still, contact was made, Letang was injured, and Pacioretty and the Habs will pay the price.

    In the Malone case, his targeting of Campoli’s head had nothing to do with preventing a scoring opportunity, and it did not happen at close quarters with Campoli in the trolley tracks, as Letang was. Campoli was merely trying to bring the puck out of the Montreal zone. Malone recklessly targeted Campoli high on the body. No suspension.

    I don’t get it, if Shanahan is indeed trying to make the game safer, he’s failing, because the players are confused about what is permissible and what isn’t.. It’s not for Max Pacioretty that I feel bad. It’s for Ryan Miller and Kris Letang.

  2. billy mcbranken says:

    Make up your mind.

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