It seems so very simple, but it's a complicated and stressful process. Guys like (Brendan) Shanahan, Stephane Quintal, and Rob Blake are not that far removed from playing in the NHL. There are players in the league who know these guys, played with them, and played against them. Just like with their still-unnamed predecessor -- whose last name is also a famous brand of soup (no, not Lipton) -- there are personal biases that must be overcome.
Perhaps these biases will see a stiffer test at some point down the line. Maybe they are missing numerous rules violations that should lead to suspensions. But the fact that we're nearly two months into the season and still haven't heard a ton of complaints from media and fans about an arbitrary and seemingly random disciplinary system tells me that Shanahan and the people around him are doing a good job.
The NHL system was never perfect, before Shanahan or now. But in the last month, it seems that there has been a lot of ball-dropping in the Department of Player Safety. No, Jermichael Finley didn't get hired.
While the league has still issued a few suspensions for illegal conduct during that time, there have been some incidents that have gone mysteriously unpunished.
Yes, many of them involve the Minnesota Wild, and the latest one of those is my primary concern right now. But this is almost certainly a league-wide issue.
"Monday evening, an incident occured in the game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild. At 5:42 of the first period, Colorado player Cody McLeod delivered an illegal hit to Minnesota's Jared Spurgeon. As a result of the hit, Spurgeon fell face-first into the ledge along the top of the boards. As you can see in the video ..."
Oh, McLeod was not suspended. No hearing. Played in Tuesday's game against Winnipeg like nothing ever happened.
This came a couple weeks after Winnipeg defenseman Zach Bogosian escaped a suspension for his hit from behind on Pierre-Marc Bouchard. I still don't like that decision, but this one is much, much worse.
Spurgeon 1) hasn't played the puck and 2) has his back to McLeod the entire play. McLeod 1) makes no effort to minimize the contact, actually skating through the hit, and 2) is making no effort to play the puck. He's simply trying to blow Spurgeon up, which was apparently the Avalanche game plan Monday.
This is a textbook illegal hit and a suspension. Yes, McLeod received a game misconduct and a major penalty, but Spurgeon left the game, did not return, and is out for the Wild's game at Nashville Wednesday, if not longer.
I hate to keep bringing up the asinine suspension Pierre-Marc Bouchard got for an accidental high-stick to the face, but Shanahan can't tell us then that a player is responsible for his stick and the consequences of an illegal act like swinging said stick at someone, then keep silent when a player cross-checks a guy in the back, causing a broken nose. Worse, he then stays silent when a player checks a guy from behind (having never seen anything but the numbers on that player's back) and causes an injury.
Shanahan spent the first two months of the season suspending based on injuries more than actions or intent. Now, it seems he wants to change his tune, which makes him more like Colin Campbell than any of us ever wanted him to be.