I Guess It’s No Surprise

I’ve been out of commision all morning due to a little thing called work, but I’ve been reading the comments and looking around and taking in as much as possible the Malone vs. Campoli vs. Shanahan affair.

Now I’m waiting for the on-camera announcement from Shanahan himself. You know the one, where he looks like he’s in grade three reading about Dick and Jane and Spot.

I thought I had it figured out. The league was attempting in a big way to rid itself of head shots, but I guess it’s only some head shots. Depends on who’s giving and who’s taking.

I was also pretty sure that previous suspensions I’ve seen this year in preseason and described by Shanahan were, for the most case, fairly dangerous and were dealt with accordingly. I thought some of them were almost as nasty as the Malone shot.

It seems Chris Campoli stuck his head out and tried to hurt Malone’s elbow. What was he thinking?

And just when I thought I knew a little bit about hockey, it seems I don’t. Because I thought it was a flagrant, vicious attack that deserved at least five games. Maybe ten. Boy, was I out in left field.

There’s no use complaining about this. It just gives Habs-haters more ammunition. They had a field day with the cops getting involved in the Chara-Pacioretty case, and now they can say we’ve taken a little love tap and turned it into a punch by George Foreman.

Of course, their miserable hate-on blinds the reality, but there’s no use trying to tell them that.

What would have transpired if Campoli had suffered a serious injury from this? Does it then make Malone guilty, or is he still free as a bird? And if he’s suspended for an injury-causing blow, then what’s the difference?

I’m also disappointed in Jacques Martin. Is he afraid to criticize the league in any manner whatsoever? When have we ever heard him blow a fuse over an injustice? Martin should have come out with guns blazing and backed his man in print and on the air. But it seems it’s not his personality, and I think it’s a big downfall of his.

Players want to know that their coach will go to bat for them. Martin has failed miserably, as he did in the Chara-Pacioretty incident.

Anyway, I’m all about Thursday, when the Canadiens take on the Leafs. We’re just going to have to do things the old-fashioned way. Win and win often.

Whether the league wants us to or not.

20 thoughts on “I Guess It’s No Surprise”

  1. I’m really disgusted right now but I’m not really surprised. It’s not just because it’s a Habs player (although I admit I’m extra sensitive about this) but I’d feel this way about anyone. He was vulnerable, he didn’t have time to react, and Malone was head-hunting all night!

    Well, we’ll have to let this one go of course…until it happens to us again naturally.

  2. Dennis,

    I can’t play hockey but I can smell bullsh*t.

    Let’s set aside Montreal paranoia and the rest of the baggage and take Mr Shanahan on his own terms as someone attempting to lay down clear and concise precedents for hits to the head, something for which he should be applauded. After all he has suspended Leafs, Flyers and Red Wings, so let’s take all this at face value

    So what does he say about the Malone hit?

    “We felt that this hit was the most challenging one so far in this preseason for the Department of Player Safety to evaluate,” said Shanahan. “In the end, we felt that Malone had committed to the hit when Campoli was upright. However, when the contact was made, Campoli’s head position significantly changed just prior to the hit.

    Just to emphaise, he says Campoli was upright when Malone committed and his head position changed significantly just prior to the hit.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wp4UxGZaz-Q

    Watch at 40 seconds in. Campoli has left an upright position well before the hit. Irrespective of the slight change to Campoli’s head position, given the angle that Malone takes and with the lean in at the last second he will only ever take the head. If he didn’t lean in then you could make something of the change of head position.

    But this new territory you say. Difficult decisions. Look at MacArthur on Abdelkader.

    Watch at about a minute in. It’s clear that Abdelkader’s head and body position drop a moment before the hit making the contact more significant. But Shanahan clearly states the change does not alter the verdict.

    http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=125761

    Again with the Smith on Smith hit, a change in player position is acknowledged but the fact that the hit ended with the head as the target results in suspension.

    http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=60&id=125539

    For the life of me I can’t see the difference. In all three incidents the player’s head and or body position change in the moments before the incident, but the head was always going to be part if not all of the target.

    So for my money Shanahan has slipped up there. Let’s put it down to it being early days and some inconsistencies being ironed out.

    But I worry about where this will all end.

    Take the insight into the game of hockey that endless nights of stopping pucks with your head have given Glenn Healy (assuming he comes up with this kind of nonsense all by himself).

    “Don’t forget, though, that the most important stakeholder is our fans. How will it help our fans if the new level of tolerance is set so low that it’s an Ovechkyn or Crosby that inadvertently crosses that line and misses regular season or even playoff games?”

    Oh dear God on a stick!

    You either don’t watch Sidney ‘cause his brain is a mangled sponge or you don’t watch Sidney ‘cause he’s so prone to laying out people with cheap headshots. You choose.

    Note dear bretheren and sisteren, the use of “tolerance is set so low” as opposed to say “setting the standard high”. If you don’t let ‘em fight and concuss each other you are guilty of taking the “low” ground of intolerance.

    If that sort of morally bankrupt nonsense is all they can muster, then you’d have to say the argument is won. But I doubt it.

    More worrying was an interview with Yzerman during the Quebec game (on HIO under “The Canadiens Look ready for The Opener – it was before the Malone incident I believe), where he sounded less than enthusiastic about his “old pal’s” (the interviewer’s words not mine) new regime “I always believe in going slowly here”, before affirming his belief that no one deliberately targets the head, it’s a fast game, a moments decision etc. etc.

    Draw your own conclusions.

  3. Dennis

    I am a bit surprised at your stance – seems out of character for you. Did you have too much coffee today?

    I for one am fine with Shanahan’s decision. It was a close call and I think you need to look at this from his perspective. He can’t come down too hard too fast… he can’t suspend people for hockey plays and he can’t be seen to be reducing the amount of legitimate hitting through these suspensions. He has too many people lined up against what he is trying to do, just waiting for him to overstep so they get the ammunition they need to argue for the status quo.

    A year ago, he might have had 3 owners on his side for this sort of thing but a number of factors, i.e. Crosby, the three deaths this summer, etc. have created a small window for real change. Most owner’s – many reluctantly – are for change for the first time ever. He’s got to move as fast as he can without moving so fast that he blows it. So there will be a call here and there that people don’t agree with or understand – it’s new for everyone including Shanahan.

    I for one hope people cut this guy some slack. I believe he is genuine in getting head shots out of the game and if he moves slower than some of us would like, I’m going to respect his reasons.

    One final thing, good for JM for not saying anything in the media. I don’t think coaches should rail against the league in the media – there are other channels for supporting your players that don’t mean embarrasing the league.

  4. Blue Bayou, such a great essay. Thank you. The MacArthur and Smith hits, like you say, don’t seem much different at all, and I’d say Malone’s was as vicious and could have ended a career. Something really is fishy. It’s not right not to punish this guy, just like it wasn’t right not to punish Chara. And Yzerman and Shanahan have been friends for years and maybe the league disciplinarian shouldn’t have any kind of connection with the league. Maybe an outsider would be best. I’d just like to know what the outcome would havbe been if Campoli had been seriously injured. Would it have made a difference?
    Your comment deserves it’s own post. Thanks for this.

  5. Thanks V, but if they want to get rid of head shots and concussions, what about this one? It was a vicious check which could have done serious damage. It was only luck that Campoli seems to be okay. If Campoli had been concussed, which was close to being, would you say that everything was okay here? Malone was headhunting all evening, the score was out of reach, and it was a sickening blow. Gorges had a reason to go after him. My stance here is that I hated what I saw and I’m not out of character for thinking and saying it. Don’t forget, I think even Malone thought he’d be suspended.
    I also don’t think, as you say, that it was a legitimate hit, and he has been quick in change. He’s been suspending players every few days it seems. If you look at Blue Bayou’s videos, is there a difference?

  6. Its all BS. I don’t give a crap what rules they have as long as the players are happy and that they are CONSISTENT!! I understand what V says about blowing up on this headshot thing too quickly but when there multiple very similar incidents in the same month, that’s not the time to change the way you run things. You either call it or you don’t. Its just like reffing any game, there should be no complaints as long as things are consistent. But this no call by Shanny is just dumb.

  7. Gillis, you’re right. Shanahan has suspended a lot of players already. Many people are complaining that he’s been suspending too many. But right, be consistent. I winced hard when that hit happened and I don’t understand when people say it wasn’t that bad. From my eyes I was.

  8. dennis, you and i have disagreed on many things in the past and i’m sure will in the future but you are bang on with this and it is consistent with what you have been saying all along……….. the nhl has moved very slowly in everything concerning player safety. taking head shots out of the game is not taking hitting out of the game. it is taking head shots out of the game. a head shot is not a hockey play. mr. shanahan has bowed to the pressure and that in itself says a lot…………. if i wasn’t a hab fan i wouldn’t want the hab coach sticking up for his players either. it’s not the first time…….. as far as embarrassing the league? the nhl is quite capable of embarrassing itself…….. it’s been a long stressful day what with taking the dogs out for a walk in the forest and going to the dump so i’m going to put all this shit aside and concentrate on winning the first game.

  9. To me, Martin and the Habs have this outside facade that plays in line with the League. Neither he nor the players will blast those on a higher plane than themselves. Instead, they’ll express polite disappointment. Internally, however, it looks to be a different story. Together, they’ll support each other in times like this which is why these guys are so close.

    I also prefer his calm in the face of such controversy rather than that of a raving lunatic. Besides, they can’t control the decision. All they can do is hope the League gets it right, and once again have proven that their faith should remain with each other.

    Remember, dare to criticize the League and you’ll be fined, not to mention labelled a maverick. It’s such an old boys club that its sickening.

    Either way, it’s the Habs vs the League. Those asshat Bruins claimed everyone was against them, when in fact everyone was their friend. The true outsiders are Nos Glorieux.

  10. Thanks 31. As long as the players know Martin is in their corner I’m okay with it. But if he never shows it, it’s not leadership at its finest. I completely agree with your last paragraph especially.

  11. When in doubt, err on the side of player safety. Better a player lose a couple games than a player lose his livelihood.

    But in the end these suspensions are all a joke. Replacing the rock hard shoulder and elbow pads with the previous generation soft pads would do far more to reduce concussions than this farce.

    One bad call is too soon to declare a conspiracy. I would love to see statistics of the suspensions by Campbell. All reviewed plays by player’s team and by the team victimized by his action.

  12. Dennis,

    Re reading my drivel above, I may have given the impression that I thought Yzerman may have influenced Shanahan’s decision. I should have been clearer. What I was trying to imply was that given their “friendship”, Yzerman sounded like a man who’s just been told his best mate was diddling his favourite kid sister.

    If Shanahan’s supposed pals and peers, and more particulalrly GMs and the like are not offering enthusiastic endorsments then I don’t see a new dawn breaking.

    Like many I find the decision on Malone perplexing but I’m not screaming conspiracy. I’m more worried by general inertia. But for the moment this is one decison.

    A regular season and the play-offs will give a better indication of where this is going.

  13. Blue Bayou, we just don’t seem to get the calls others might. When Andrew Ference gave the finger to the Bell Centre crowd, nothing was said or done but any other time, in any other polace, it might have been different. Chara deserved something. Malone did too. We’re trying to win a Cup and things just keep happening. No idea why.

  14. Chris, if players just won’t stop, and they probably won’t, then it’s up to the brainpower to soften the equipment. Players have to be handled like little kids.

  15. I just wanted to add that I think Blue Bayou has written the definitive piece on the Malone-Campoli hit. I think his analysis is brilliant and the Yzerman interview really thickened the plot as far as I’m concerned. Well done BB!

  16. Good article, Danno. Nice to see someone with a big paper taking Shanahan to task. Even the comments, for a change, were mostly in agreement that he dropped the ball on this.

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