12:41 PM CDT, April 12, 2012
Nashville defenseman Shea Weber rammed Detroit center Henrik Zetterberg’s head into the glass at the end of their playoff opener Wednesday night.
Weber missed the first time, but got the Red Wings center the second. Weber rammed Zetterberg’s head into the glass like an old-time wrestler running his opponent into a turnbuckle.
It was bad. It was obvious. It was stupid. It was concussive.
But most of all, it was suspend-able.
Weber’s act was exactly the kind of hit that the league has punished significantly this year and last. The league zealously protected its players’ heads, and it was lauded for such vigilance.
Duncan Keith just got five games for a WWE-like flying elbow on Daniel Sedin. Weber’s actions were as blatant as Keith’s, intended to do as much damage, and every bit motivated by revenge, which makes it exponentially indefensible.
This, then, figured to be bad for Weber and the Predators. This, then figured to be major.
But Brendan Shanahan choked.
The NHL wonk in charge of making miscreants stay after school did nothing more than fine Weber a mere $2,500, and only that because that was maximum allowed by the collective bargaining agreement.
No suspension. No missed games. No real punishment. Just a silly fine for a serious act.
Shanahan got pantsed. He clowned his own league. He turned the best time of the year into a joke.
The Stanley Cup playoffs just started, and the NHL’s credibility is over.
This decision seems so indefensible and incomprehensible that it smacks of a spineless NHL from a generation ago. The only thing missing is John Ziegler’s big red nose.
If there’s no suspension for something as blatant and contrary to league dictates as Weber’s act, then there can be no suspension for anyone the rest of the playoffs.
It’s recess, kids, and all the adults left.