The Vancouver Canucks don’t exactly have the refs on their side. But before explaining that, an aside…As a child, I loved to watch TV game shows. There was a motley assortment of programs that were in their heyday back then, such as Let’s Make a Deal, with Monty Hall pulling crazily dressed audience members out of the crowd to take a shot at earning a mixed bag of prizes.
Other entertaining contests crowded the airwaves in those days: Richard Dawson kissing every female (and some males) in sight on Family Feud; Alex Trebek dryly challenging contestants in Jeopardy in an era before the Will Ferrell parodies; and Bob Barker’s model enhanced The Price is Right.
Half the fun was in watching the mayhem and not knowing who on Earth would come out a winner or loser.
However, not one of those shows was as wildly unpredictable as the spinning wheel of (in)justice that Brendan Shanahan wields on the NHL’s current head-scratcher of a reality game show, Who Gets a Suspension?
Vancouver’s Alex Edler earned the grand prize wrath of the NHL last night. He certainly ran into Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith Thursday night behind the net–outside the trapezoid no less–but appeared to be coming along the boards for the puck and was not directly targeting the opposing player. He even looked as though he may have pulled back from the hit somewhat, but the league’s discipline guru laid down a two-game suspension on the sleepy Swede for charging. Meanwhile, the New York Rangers’ glamour acquisition Rick Nash left his feet, nailing Florida Panther Tomas Kopecky in the head on open ice and came up with…. Nothing. Not even a pretend hearing. This troubling inconsistency in what constitutes an offense and the ‘pick ‘em out of a hat suspension length’ is what drives coaches and players crazy. Joffrey Lupul of the Leafs, who received his own unplanned two game break this week, tweeted his frustration quite bluntly:
If someone can explain the decisions on what warrants a suspension and what doesn’t, please let me and the rest of guys know..
— Joffrey Lupul (@JLupul) March 22, 2013
Expect (or not) another game-break for that one when the wheel spins anew.Colin Campbell previously earned the ire of Canucks fans with his unprecedented four-game ban of Aaron Rome in the Stanley Cup Finals for an admittedly tough, but just slightly late hit.
So when Brendan Shanahan was appointed to the same position afterwards, it was hoped that the respect he earned as a player would legitimize the role in the league’s hierarchy. But seemingly, the more things change the more they stay the same as the old adage goes.
However, if the league’s arbitrary discipline process continues to operate so incomprehensibly, then at least the NHL should inform Shanny that his game show actions should at least require him to don the puffed hair, capped teeth, and checked coat that all the best 70s/80s hosts wore when he lays out these decisions.
At least then, there is a chance that players could walk away feeling that there were two losers in these decisions. Alex Edler might not have felt he had been left so alone.