NHL cop Brendan Shanahan has been busy making judgement calls.
With all the talk about suspensions and headshots during this year’s playoffs, none of us can really claim to know the rhyme or reason why some repeat offenders are getting just one game and others 25. The severity of injury seems to be taken into consideration but that becomes a bit slippery, and in itself doesn’t seem consistent. And, it’s doubtful that Brendan Shanahan has some complex algorithm that a software engineer at NHL headquarters developed for the purpose.
The most confusing, and least talked about of all, is Todd Bertuzzi. Thankfully, he and the Detroit Red Wings have been eliminated from the playoffs but his headhunting of Nashville’s Shea Weber could have had disastrous results. Clearly, Bertuzzi was trying to avenge his hit on Henrik Zetterberg — something that was clearly premeditated. Nor was that a first time offense. For those with a hazy memory, in 2004, Bertuzzi (then of the Vancouver Canucks) stalked and viciously attacked Steve Moore in a game against the Colorado Avalanche. The attack ended Moore’s career and any chance he had to lead a normal life.
It is true Bertuzzi was suspended indefinitely by the league and did not play again that season, missing the team’s final 20 games. Then came the lockout. The IIHF, the worldwide governing body for ice hockey, honored the NHL’s suspension and Bertuzzi was ineligible for international competition or play in other leagues. He was reinstated by the NHL at the end of the work stoppage and continues to enjoy an NHL career.
This is an injustice of great proportions. Saying Bertuzzi served his time because he would have been playing had there not been a lockout is irresponsible. Many of his contemporaries didn’t play at all during the lockout — and one imagines this might have been the case for Bertuzzi. He should have served his time by sitting out real NHL games.
So, as I watched Bertuzzi go after Shea Webber without so much as a mention of his chronic, malicious behavior, I lost just a little bit more faith in the NHL’s ability to be objective in its punitive measures.
Photograph: Shannon Valerio/Hockey VIPs Magazine