Sherriff Shanahan isn't fooling around.
James Wisniewski, the prized free agent signing by Scott Howson this summer, will miss the first tenth of the season after he was handed an eight-game suspension by new NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan.
Last week in a game against the Wild, Wisniewski went to the aid of defense partner Fedor Tyutin after he was pushed around by Wild shift-disturber Cal Clutterbuck. Wisniewski hit Clutterbuck in the head after the whistle, and Clutterbuck went down. Wisniewski was assessed a minor penalty, but was called to Shanahan's office today to face the repercussion of that action.
Shanahan came down hard, mainly because of Wisniewski's prior history, and the fact that the hit was to Clutterbuck's head. Head is the operative word, and every NHL fan knew that with the talk of eliminating shots to the head from the game, the first incident involving a player hitting another above the shoulders would serve as an example to the rest of the league.
Wisniewski is the example. The NHL is eliminating shots to the head.
I love the idea of cracking down on said infractions. I welcome it. The players are wearing rock-hard pads. They skate faster than ever on average, and soon enough a player getting a hit to the head will not get back up from it.
That said, I'd love to see Shanahan's explanation of where the number "8" came from, in terms of the number of games Wiz will sit out. It's a hefty suspension. To me, it seems high. Based on the other suspensions handed out so far by Shanahan, I was expecting something around five games. Again though, it's clear that Wisniewski is the example being set against headshots.
C'est la vie.
EDIT: Here's Shanny's Video:
I feel differently after watching the video. Most of us didn't have the best view of the hit, but in the video below you can clearly see that Wiz targetted Clutterbuck's head. His heart was in the right place, sticking up for Tyutin, but his head was nowhere close to where it should have been. It was a careless play, and a suspension was the right call. Eight games still stings, but this incident is the official start of the legitimate crackdown on headshots.