|The Face of Innocence.|
To the shock of nobody Brendan Shanahan has dished out another in a series of unjust decisions. Jannik Hansen has been suspended one game for making contact with the back of Marian Hossa's head while reaching for a puck in mid air. I've so many qualms with the decision I don't even know where to start. In case you haven't seen the play in question below is a video of the play.
For starters Hansen is anything but a repeat offender or a dirty player. I have the stats to back this up. In Hansen's 286 games played he has only 127 penalty minutes. His per game average is 0.44, which essentially means he is drawing a minor penalty every 4 or so games. This season he only has 4 penalty minutes, and half of those can be accredited to Jonathan Toews intimidating the ref into calling a penalty on this play after the fact. As a matter of fact Hansen's average PIM per game in his only two full seasons (10-11 and 11-12) is 0.4. The only conclusion I can draw from these statistics is that Hansen has done his best to play a clean game and continually work on this as his role and ice time have increased. Nerd stats aside, Hansen has also never been suspended before this incident.
Looking at the play in question it is also clear that there was no intent to harm Hossa. History is important in assessing whether an infraction is worthy of a suspension, but pales in comparison to the act itself. Hansen is clearly reaching for a puck in mid air. He is not raising his hand for the sole purpose of concussing Hossa. It isn't even an ulterior motive. One reason Hansen's elbow makes contact with Hossa's head is that it's inches away from the puck by the time it makes it's way to the two. Taking all this into account it becomes all too clear that there was very little recklessness involved in this play. The alternatives to reaching for the puck with his hand is attempting to bat it out of mid air and possibly decapitate Hossa in the process, or just letting it fly by him.
Another thing is I've always had a problem with taking injury into account when determining whether an offence is suspension worthy. In the case of this play in particular. If Hossa isn't knocked out by a relatively harmless looking bump to the head I have my doubts Hansen even gets a minor penalty on the play. Intent should come before anything else in determining a fit punishment.
My biggest issue with this whole thing is that Hossa clearly returned far too early from his previous concussion, suffered in last year's playoffs. If what Hansen did was enough to concuss him, he clearly had no business playing. I'm no doctor, but that play shouldn't concuss anyone. I love hockey. More than almost anything. Hockey, however, does not come before health. As somebody who has suffered several concussions myself my number one concern is for Hossa's health. Both short and long term. I can only hope he takes the necessary amount of time off before returning from this concussion.
In summation Brendan Shanahan has really screwed this one up. In his video explanation for the suspension (which is posted below) he makes it sound as though he's convinced Hansen meant to make contact with Hossa's head. If that is the case (which it is not) a one game suspension isn't long enough. Somehow he found a way to really piss off both fanbases with this call. In all fairness though, I honestly expected Shanahan to screw this call up even more than he has already. The thing is, if Hansen were such a headhunter why would he have such an adorable nickname? "Honey Badger" hardly sounds vicious to me.