F Street Faithful
by Matthew Tate on 01/24/12 at 11:48 AM ET
Yesterday, Brendan Shanahan certainly had an interesting day. He had 2 disciplinary hearings scheduled regarding 2 incidents in the same game. To make matters more interesting, the victim of one of the incidents was the transgressor in the other. The result of these hearings? Alexander Ovechkin suspended 3 games for charging Zbynek Michalek, while Michalek received no further punishment for his elbow to the back of the head of Matt Hendricks. To me, this is one of the weirdest decisions rendered by Shanahan this year.
Before I get into this, I do want to state that I think that Shanahan has done a good job this season. I think that compared to the baffling decisions by Colin Campbell over the last years, Shanahan’s no-nonsense approach and his detailed videos have been a god-send. Also, take a moment to check out both videos.
Let’s start with the Ovechkin hit. Ovechkin clearly charges Michalek here. We see him approach Michalek at high speed, and then leave his feet to deliver a hard check. In doing this, a large amount of the contact is directed at Michalek’s head. As Shanahan explained in the suspension video, Ovechkin might not be targeting the head, but because he leaves his feet, he becomes responsible for any illegal contact that follows. I like this ruling. Players should not be able to go jumping into other players and expect not to be disciplined because they didn’t “mean” to hit the head. This is a similar situation to the one we saw when Buffalo’s Ville Leino was suspended back in early December. In both situations, we have players playing in a dangerous manner, where the head of the opponents unintentionally becomes the target.
One possible explanation for Michalek appears to be that the when his knee hits Hendrick’s rear, it straightens which causes Michalek to drive forward. Go back and watch the video and try to stop it right before Michalek contacts Hendricks. Michalek clearly has his fore extending, preparing to finish off Hendricks. That right there should be enough evidence to see that while Michalek might not be intending to board/elbow Hendricks, he is putting himself in a situation where a board is extremely likely. Looking at Shanahan’s explanation regarding both Ovechkin and Leino, with regards to illegal contact while playing recklessly, I fail to see how Michalek walks away with nothing more than 2 more minutes in his PIM stat line.
Maybe it is my bias, but I think Shanahan straight-up dropped the ball on this one. He could have made the perfect statements with this. “Superstars will still be held accountable for their actions.” “Being a victim of an illegal act does not give you one free pass.” I don’t even think the suspensions should have been the same. Ovechkin’s 3 games make sense given his history while Michalek’s has no history, to my knowledge, of bad checks. To me, it just makes no sense.
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Welcome to the home of the F Street Faithful, run by Matthew Tate. This is a go-to blog for all things related to the Washington Capitals. The F Street Faithful is 5% news and 95% breaking down the news.
In the past I have written for several other sports blogs as well as the college newspaper while at York College of Pennsylvania. I am a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania but am based out of Southern Maryland.
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