BOSTON (CBS) — The inaugural season of Brendan Shanahan as the NHL’s disciplinarian has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that his decisions are nearly impossible to predict. With that understood, Shanahan’s precedent for suspensions for charging this year says that Jason Chimera likely won’t be missing any time for his Thursday night hit on Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid.
Shanahan’s precedent for boarding, however, may come into play.
The biggest wild card regarding a suspension will be McQuaid’s health. The 25-year-old has a history of concussions, as he went headfirst at full speed into the end boards during last year’s playoff series with Philadelphia. McQuaid also missed four games this past October for again colliding with the boards, though the indication from the team at the time was that McQuaid was suffering from neck pain and not a concussion.
McQuaid’s status is not yet publicly known, but the prognosis did not look promising on Thursday night.
“He suffered a cut over the eyebrow, and he wasn’t feeling quite right so the doctors didn’t want to take a chance of sending him back,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said.
CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty also told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich on Friday morning that one Bruins player indicated that McQuaid was feeling “pretty disoriented” after the game.
Shanahan — right or wrong — has let the extent of injuries influence his decision-making this year, so if McQuaid did indeed sustain a concussion, it could be bad news for Chimera.
What Chimera does have on his side is that Shanahan’s previous decisions this season regarding charging have all been in cases much more extreme than Chimera’s. What Chimera was guilty of was taking perhaps 15 strides after hopping over the boards and approaching McQuaid at a reckless, uncontrollable speed. McQuaid, perhaps unaware of the rapidly approaching Chimera, turned his back to the skater, and the resulting collision sent McQuaid hard into the boards. The appropriate call — five minutes for charging — was issued.
Shanahan has suspended six players for charging this season. One involved Jordin Tootoo hitting goaltender Ryan Miller, and four others involved skaters leaving their feet to deliver high checks. The one most similar to the Chimera-McQuaid hit was Zac Rinaldo’s hit on Jonathan Ericsson, though that hit was much more violent than the one that took place in Boston on Thursday, and again, it also included a player leaving his feet to deliver a high hit.
The Chimera-McQuaid hit has also drawn comparisons to Andrew Ference’s hit on Ryan McDonagh in January, which resulted in a three-game suspension for Ference. No two hits are the same, though, so let’s explore the similarities and differences. First, the similarities:
- The hits are similar in that the contact near the end boards appeared to be unintentional.
- Like Chimera, Ference was guilty of carrying too much speed, which resulted in a dangerous collision.
And the differences:
- Ference was chasing his own dump-in, while Chimera was simply skating toward the puck carrier behind his own net.
- McDonagh never changed his body position in relation to Ference, whereas McQuaid did in fact turn his body away from the charging Chimera, which changed the angle and point of contact on the hit.
- Chimera was traveling at a more reckless speed than Ference was.
It is that change of McQuaid’s body position at the last split-second makes the hits vastly different, thereby leaving a bit of leeway for Shanahan in his interpretation of the Chimera hit.
What we can’t yet judge in terms of similarities or differences is the extent of McQuaid’s injury. It’s important to note that Ference was suspended for three games, despite the fact that McDonagh suffered no lasting injury. Had McDonagh suffered a concussion or some other serious injury, it’s fair to guess Ference’s punishment would have been more severe.
Shanahan’s explanation of Ference’s hit referenced Rule 41.1, which says boarding is when a player “checks or pushes an opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously.” Shanahan admitted that he believed Ference had no malicious intent on the hit, but the hit “nevertheless is a reckless shove from behind that causes in a dangerous collision with the boards.”
“The onus is on Ference to avoid this type of hit completely,” Shanahan said.
The onus is now on Shanahan to maintain consistency. If Ference deserved a suspension two months ago for a similar hit with subtle differences, it’d be hard to say Chimera doesn’t deserve the same now.
The bottom line is that Ference was suspended for skating recklessly into a player and unintentionally sending him dangerously into the end boards — a hit that resulted in no injury. Now, Chimera is guilty of skating recklessly into a player and unintentionally sending him dangerously into the end boards, and this one may in fact result in an injury.
It is the dangerous speed and the potential for injury that say Shanahan should suspend Chimera for two or three games in order to remain consistent with his Ference ruling. However, as we’ve learned over the years, both with Shanahan and Colin Campbell, consistency and precedent rarely comes into play when making these decisions.
UPDATE: A report from the Washington Examiner says there will be no supplemental discipline for Chimera.
Do you think Jason Chimera should be suspended for his hit on Adam McQuaid? Do you think he will? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
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