McQuaid incident shows how well the NHL now handles player discipline


McQuaid incident shows how well the NHL now handles player discipline

OTTAWA The NHLs Player Safety Department has been on a roll this season, and its pretty easy to see why.

Where once the NHL decision-making in the realm of supplemental discipline was viewed as arbitrary at best and patently unfair at worst, the NHL has gained utter and complete transparency in all of those troublesome gray areas.

Brendan Shanahan and the player safety crew arrive at the table armed with explanations, logic and detailed breakdowns of plays that fall on the right and wrong side of suspensions and its made all of the difference.

The perfect example was the Adam McQuaid kneeing penalty on Nick Foligno from Wednesday night in Ottawa.

It featured an extremely clean, honest player (McQuaid) making a split-second decision to impede Foligno with his left leg when it appeared the Ottawa forward was about to burst by him for an offensive rush in a one-goal game.

Foligno went down to the ice and the initial replays looked pretty nasty. The on-ice officials took complete control of the incident and acted with some swift justice. They slapped McQuaid with a five-minute major and a game misconduct that left Boston shorthanded in the third period, and had Shanahan satisfied that a proper punishment had already been levied.

What Shanahan and Co. have done is a remarkable job getting into the minds of the players on the ice, and figuring out what the motives are behind the actions. Its a difficult challenge perhaps made easier with somebody like Shanahan, a recent player who still has his finger on the pulse of the game.

It was clear there was no premeditated decision to leg-whip Foligno, and instead McQuaid flashed his leg out at the last minute as a desperate resort to slow down the offensive player.

The league correctly deduced it was a reactionary play rather than some sinister attempt to injure by yet another hatchet man just looking to push boundaries before getting slapped back into good behavior.

I would have been personally disappointed to see a suspension. It wasnt done purposefully and there was no injury on the play, said Bruins coach Claude Julien. At one point we need to let players play. If we get too hard then players will stop playing and be afraid to do things. A fine is a fine, and I guess you live with that.

From the outside we dont always take time to look at all of the things they have to look at before making their decisions. Its not an easy job. I sincerely have tremendous respect for people doing that job. Its not an easy job and its not a popular one. I will always respect the decision whether I agree with it or not.

Also, and importantly, Foligno wasnt injured on the play and finished out the game. In a utopian hockey society, perhaps, supplemental discipline is handed down without consideration for the severity of an injury, but thats just not practical or realistic when it comes to keeping the hockey peace.

Kevin Porter had a similar kneeing incident with Vancouvers David Booth, and Porter was given a four-game suspension when Booth suffered an injury thats knocked him out for a month. A review of the play also showed Porter had thrown his leg in the way well before contact with Booth, and smacked much more of intent than reactionary play.

So the message comes across clear to players: Play on the edge and hurt somebody seriously and youll lose some valuable game checks.

Its the best deterrent to some of the abhorrent behavior that gets displayed in NHL games, and its the sharpest weapon in Shanahans arsenal. Its up to the NHL executive to decide when to wield that punitive power, and Shanahan has been brilliantly consistent with picking his spots and then explaining it blow-by-blow on video. The overwhelming video breakdown of evidence against Edmonton defenseman Andy Sutton before his recent suspension was an ode to being a repeat offender, and lets everyone know that the NHL is always watching.

McQuaid said its his goal to never get suspended in his NHL career, and that should be music to the ears of Shanahan and the rest of the NHLs Sheriff Department. Those are the kinds of physical, honest player that the league should want to keep playing with toughness and intensity, and avoid discouraging at all costs.

I was happy the league saw it the way it happened, said McQuaid. There wasnt any intent to injure. It was a reaction and a bad decision on my part. Now I can move past it and hopefully never hear about it again. Happy there was no injury and now I pay my fine and we move on.

Its such a fast game and things happen quickly. Sometimes there are tough decisions to be made, but with in-depth explanations you can understand where everyone is coming from and why decisions are made the way they are.

The 2,500 fine for McQuaid and the scare of a possible suspension become an effective reminder for the Bs defenseman that its vitally important to respect his fellow players and avoid moving too far off the edge. McQuaid has experienced the negative attention that one borderline play can bring to him as a player, and thats something hes not interested in reliving anytime soon.

You never want to have a suspension on your record for anything. It was a bad decision, but I knew I wasnt trying to make a dirty play, said McQuaid. I was just hoping the league would see it that way. Hopefully I wont be in that situation again.

The league makes the dead proper call and a player learns their lesson without getting Shanabanned. All is right in the NHL world until the next high profile incident that demands Shanahans attention and fury from his corner office in New York City.

Thursday, Oct. 27: Chara top D-man on All-Graybeard team


Thursday, Oct. 27: Chara top D-man on All-Graybeard team

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while saying RIP Vine but not really feeling it since it’s a rabbit hole I never really delved down into. 

*Down Goes Brown celebrates the “NHL’s old guys”, and yes, that means a gratuitous shout out to Zdeno Chara as the top defenseman on the All-Graybeard squad. 

*Hampus Lindholm has signed a long term deal with the Anaheim Ducks, so now that deal leaves everybody to wonder who is leaving the Anaheim roster in the eventual salary cap crunch. It will be interesting to see if this hastens any Cam Fowler trade talk as far as the Bruins are concerned because it looks like they need the help.  

*Pro Hockey Talk has the Oilers off to their best start since the Wayne Gretzky Era and people in Edmonton finally getting to see the hockey they’ve been waiting for over the past few years. 

*In honor of the Halloween season that we’re in, here are a few cool and scary goalie masks with a bit of spooky flair. 

*Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka is confident that his young team is going to rebound after a rough start to the season. 

*Speaking of creative uniforms, it’s a most wonderful time of the year for hockey when they bust out their Oktoberfest sweaters. 

*For something completely different: this matchup of Peanuts and Stranger Things hits all the right notes for fans of both. 


Goalie update: Tuukka Rask dealing with hamstring AND groin injury?


Goalie update: Tuukka Rask dealing with hamstring AND groin injury?

While the good news is that it doesn’t appear that Tuukka Rask is dealing with a knee injury, there are still some significant muscular issues to work with concerning his left leg. 

According to former Bruins defenseman and NHL analyst Aaron Ward on CSN’s Great American Hockey Show podcast, the Bruins franchise goaltender has been dealing with a hamstring issue that’s also become a hamstring and groin issue as he tried to play through in the first week of the season. Rask clearly tweaked something in his left leg opening night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, missed the Saturday night loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs and then appeared to aggravate the injury in last week’s win over the New Jersey Devils. 

According to Ward, it’s hamstring and groin issues for Rask as the Bruins attempt to survive without him while potentially working toward a possible return for the Finnish netminder this weekend vs. the Red Wings. Rask hasn’t skated with the Bruins since finishing out the 2-1 win over the Devils last Thursday night, and tweaking the problematic left leg in the process. 

“What I was told is that it was left leg, and that at first it was hamstring and now it’s possibly hamstring and groin,” said Ward to CSN Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty on the Great American Hockey Show podcast. “You’re always concerned when you’re a goalie and it’s your legs, right? It’s the push-off. The crazy part was watching it on video where the shoot came from the left side and went wide, and the next time he injures it shot comes from the same spot, misses it wide and [Rask] is in the exact same position wincing.

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“I think [the Bruins] are smart rather than trying to play a guy that’s 90, 80 or 70 percent, whatever it is, to just get it over with. Endure the short term pain to get the greater gain, and that’s having Rask in there. There’s no greater endorsement to keep him out than seeing the [bad losses without him] because you need a healthy Tuukka to let the rest of the team settle.”

It’s been disastrous without Rask, of course, as the Bruins have allowed 11 goals in back-to-back losses to the Wild and Rangers with rookies Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre between the pipes, and Anton Khudobin out for three weeks while sporting a cast on his right hand in the last B’s game at TD Garden. 

Meanwhile, Rask (3-0-0, 1.67 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage) is trying to heal and time it perfectly so he returns once he’s past the danger of potentially blowing out the muscles in his left leg and making the situation even worse than it already might be. 

Ward also discusses his relationship with "Toucher & Rich" and the "Cuts for a Cause" charitable event that he helped start.