New sheriff in the NHL

September 23, 2011

There’s a new sheriff in the NHL and so far I like his style. Brendan Shanahan is the new head of discipline and he seems to have brought a refreshingly new approach to his job – apply the rules and make the punishment for rule breakers act as a real deterrent to the rule breaker and to all other players.

Two incidents have been brought before Shanahan so far this NHL pre-season and in both cases stiffer penalties have been meted out than would have been expected under the old regime. Not only are the penalties more severe, Jody Shelley will miss the rest of the pre-season and the first five games of the regular season for a hit from behind, but Shanahan provides a detailed and reasoned explanation, on video, as to which rule was broken, all extenuating and mitigating circumstances associated with the incident and the length of the suspension he is imposing. This not only sends a strong, clear and effective message to all NHL players about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior in the game, but perhaps even more importantly, sends the same message to young kids playing the game in our communities.

Our kids are fed a steady diet on sports television of the top 10 most vicious hits, offensive verbal outbursts, violent incidences, and all other kinds of undesirable behaviours in sports that the broadcasters think make for good television. It will be interesting to see if they will give Brendan Shanahan’s video explanations of his disciplinary decisions the same air time. If they do, our kids will learn a lot more about the game of hockey then they currently do from watching sports news casts.

Some may think Shanahan is being too strict and that these kinds of suspensions are going to take the physical elements out of the game – I don’t think so. I think he’s just going to take the gratuitous violence out of the game and that will be good for the game and good for our kids. What do you think?