I was at a friends’ house my sophomore year of high school and the Blues game was on. They were playing the Winnipeg Jets. My family is not a hockey family by any means, so my exposure to the sport was very limited at the time. However, I went to a different high school than my older siblings that boasted a great hockey program in which many of my friends played and I was a regular rink rat every weekend. Brendan Shannahan, whom I knew was a star player, took a stick from Keith Tkachuk in the face in the first period and nearly got his lip nearly ripped off. It was agonizing to watch, even on channel 11’s pixilated screen circa early 1990’s. After getting a series of stitches and missing the second period, Shannahan returned in the third to (not only) play with an extra nostril, but also score two goals, then hunt down Tkachuk and completely jump him. This was justice in the purest form.
Years later I became an avid fan and like many St. Louis Blues fans, I loathed the Redwings when they came to town. I still do. However, I couldn’t muster up the traditional hatred for Shannahan since if it weren’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be a hockey fan to this day. I recall seeing a woman at Savvis Centre with a Shannahan jersey that was half a Detroit and half a St. Louis jersey stitched together. The fact that he fetched Chris Pronger (MVP and Norris trophy winner while a Blue) made it a bit easier to deal with his departure whereas seeing Brett Hull wearing the winged wheel was something like seeing your dad wearing a dress.
Anyway, when looking at Colin Campbell’s (recent former NHL senior vice president and director of hockey operations) method for administering justice for illegal hits and other infractions, there was a lot of grey area. Grey would be a colorful way to put it. There was little to no explanation for his decisions and he was virtually mum on the topic as he often refused press conferences or press releases. His disciplinary method was something like this; www.nhlwheelofjustice.com. While that can be a lot of fun, Brendan Shannahan’s technique of posting videos at http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=60&id=125539 offers a clear and concise explanation about the who, what, where, when, and why of every suspension. Although I don’t expect him to get everything right, it’s good to know that there is a transparent person at the top making logical decisions. I’ve watched every video posted so far in the preseason and I am yet to find anything objectionable. The fact that the NHL’s top star (Sidney Crosby) has been sidelined since January 1 with a concussion along with quite a few other well-known NHL players (David Perron, Marc Savard, and Mark Staal) has probably weighed on either Shannahan or Bettman’s (NHL Commisioner) decision to post the videos. In an age where youtube can get you more stardom than MTV, it is a good idea for the NHL to integrate this newer form of media into their justice system.
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Written by Patrick McLellan