Now let's get something straight here.
I am a proponent of physical play in the game. The quick-reaction tendency to hand out suspensions in the NHL this season has at many times concerned me, and has in some cases set dangerous precedents in limiting the abilities of the blue-collar players of the league. In addition, I've always been a firm believer in the responsibility of the puck carrier for his own welfare, and I believe that a player caught with his head down across the middle is often as responsible for his concussion as the hitter that clipped him, in some cases.
Anyone who has listened to our radio broadcasts would know this.
But a $2,500 dollar fine for Shea Weber's head-slamming of Henrik Zetterberg is flat-out ridiculous.
I am willing to take into account the heat of the moment, or the playoffs getting the best of someone, even at the final horn of Game 1 against Zetterberg, who nobody would accuse of being a player to get under one's skin. The incident doesn't affect my views of Shea Weber as a person.
But look at this video and tell me this wasn't 100% intentional.
In response to the hit, Weber received the fine from the NHL's Department of Player Safety, with the following announcement from Vice President Brendan Shanahan:
"This was a reckless and reactionary play on which Weber threw a glancing punch and then shoved Zetterberg's head into the glass," said NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan. "As is customary whenever Supplemental Discipline is being considered, we contacted Detroit following the game and were informed that Zetterberg did not suffer an apparent injury and should be in the lineup for Game 2.
"This play and the fine that addressed it will be significant factors in assessing any incidents involving Shea Weber throughout the remainder of the playoffs."
First of all, are we to believe from this statement that the decision not to suspend Weber is somewhat based on the fact that Zetterberg was not injured? That is not the criteria of course, but if Steve Moore' neck didn't break, would Todd Bertuzzi have been indefinitely suspended from the NHL? I can imagine that when Bertuzzi grabbed the back of Moore's head and slammed it to the ground, his intentions weren't much more malicious than Weber's.
This isn't saying that Weber should get that punishment by any means, but not one game?
Second, Shanahan says the turnbuckle maneuver will be a 'significant factor' going forward. What worse can he do? Folding chair to the back of Pavel Datsyuk? Pile-driver for Johan Franzen? Slamming some one's head into a wall is enough to garner a suspension from a league that has made both head contact and hitting from behind a major focus this year. Weber gave them the best of both.
Let's address the fine, which NHL.com reported as being the maximum allowed under the CBA. I'm sure Weber is relieved he didn't drop an F-bomb while palming the back of Hank's helmet, as we've learned that NOTHING is more offensive than that. That's worth $20,000! Instead, it'll cost Weber less than 1% of his salary and, more importantly, not cost the Predators their best player going into Game 2.
For a front-office that spoke up so loudly against the philosophies on staged fighting, vocal coaches, and the level of violence in the NHL, all areas where it arguably should step back and let men control the game, it was a surprisingly indifferent reaction to an assault after the final buzzer on one of the game's best players. Maybe Scotty Hartnell isn't so out of character, afterall.