Thursday, 17 October 2013

Shanahan – NHL Enforcer’s Days Are Numbered

Brendan Shanahan departed from his usual script during his most recent suspension announcement to express his disappointment with a few of NHLPA members.  “The NHL Department of Player Safety is overworked and stretched to the limit because certain players are doing whatever the hell they like and not focusing on hockey.  I’m talking about enforcers and their inability to protect their teammates and take care of the rats”.

“We all know why enforcers are in the game,” Shanahan continued, “at least those of us who have played the game know why they are on team rosters.  You media guys don’t have a clue, but we do.  But over the past few weeks some of these enforcers are getting lazy and dirty players are taking advantage of the situation while my guys have to pick up the slack.  I don’t have enough video screens and employees to stay on top of this situation. These guys have to do their jobs.”

Shanahan used the suspension to Brad Stuart as his first example of enforcers sleeping on the job.  Stuart was given 3 games after an elbow to Rick Nash on October 8th.  Stuart wasn’t deterred in the slightest by Arron Asham, a veteran of 36 fights in the past 5 seasons.  Shanahan pointed out, “Asham played almost 12 minutes that game, a lifetime for a guy in his role, but failed to protect Nash.”  He continued his rant, “Did he suddenly think he’s a hockey player?   Did he forget why he was on the roster?  Brian Boyle, I guess after getting tired of waiting for Asham to do his job, finally took on Stuart in the 3rd period.  Too little and too late”

Next up for Shanahan was the Alex Edler 3 game suspension for a head hit on Tomas Hertl.  “Matt Pelech, who fought 16 or 17 times in the AHL in each of the past 3 seasons, is obviously not taking his promotion seriously.  Here we have an exciting rookie, Hertl, who should be afforded a lot of extra room to skate because of Pelech’s presence, but instead ends up getting his helmet popped by Edler.”  Shanahan shook his head in disgust before continuing.

“Last but not least we have Patrick Kaleta.  Here’s a guy that should have been pummelled out of the league by the collective group of enforcers but for some reason he still exists.”   It was pointed out that Jared Boll was on the ice at the time of the hit, only 3 or 4 strides away from Kaleta.  “Exactly!  Boll should have been patrolling the ice and reminding Kaleta that he was out there.  At least he jumped on Kaleta right after the hit and engaged him in a fight so I’m sure he’ll think twice about doing it again.”

Shanahan was certainly not ready to give up on the role of the enforcer.  “Just because something doesn’t appear to be working does not mean that it’s not effective.  As former players we know how things work and we won’t allow the issue to get clouded with facts or statistics.  We just need to take the concept of allowing the players to police the game and tweak it, to figure out how to use just the right amount of violence to make the game safer.”

At this point Shanahan turned from ranting to offering solutions.  “I’m not sure what changes we have to make to the game to make our players safer.  Perhaps the enforcers need to wear special helmets with a red light on top and have them emit a police siren when they skate up and down the ice.  Maybe this extra visibility would serve as constant reminder of their presence and make players think twice about taking liberties on the ice.”  

One of the more surprising moments arrived when Shanahan revealed the existence of a secret training camp for future referees.   The NHL Department of Player Safety has been quietly recruiting large intimidating officials and training them in the art of boxing.  Known as the “Judge Dredd Project” the idea is to add an imposing physical specimen to each 3-person crew who can hand out immediate justice.  Shanahan explains, “When one of these new officials sees a cheap shot on the ice they would be instructed to take the offending player aside and beat him to a pulp.  The policing would be instant and we have the advantage that players are not allowed to hit an official, making this system far more effective.”  Shanahan, with a smug look on his face said, “You media types have been saying for years that we need to eliminate the goons and leave the officiating and penalties to the referees.  We think this new system will do just that.”

Regarding the unique name for the project, Shanahan responded, “I mean after all….we are the law…” 

(ED: video of this press conference was not available at the time we went to press.  Who are we kidding, there’s no video and we don’t have any editors)

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