Shanahan Making His Mark in New Role
Former Red Wing forward Brendan Shanahan has always been more than just a player. Standing 6’3″, the talented Canadian was a special breed of winger that could fight the toughest opponent and score on his first shift out of the box. In fact, Shanahan is the ONLY player in NHL history with over 600 goals and 2000 PIMs.
But Shanny, as the fans in New Jersey, St. Louis, Hartford, Detroit, and New York knew him, was a dominating presence off the ice as well. He was one of the most vocal player reps in the labor disputes of the early 90s and late 2000s. His work with the NHLPA has been commended by both players and owners throughout his illustrious 21 year NHL career.
Just months after scoring his final playoff goal in the summer of 2009, Shanahan accepted a position with the NHL as VP of Hockey and Player Development. Now just two years later, Shanahan has moved into hockey’s most difficult and scrutinized position outside of the Commissioner’s chair, VP of Player Safety .
Shanahan is replacing Colin Campbell, who had drawn ire from nearly every organization over the past decade in his role as NHL disciplinarian. Owners, GMs and fans pointed at the inconsistencies of Campbell as the league has adjusted to its new style of play.
Shanahan thinks a lot of this critism is unwarranted. “I’ve got a bigger net to capture some of these illegal hits,” said Shanahan. “The rules were different when he was here.”
Shanahan has the benefit of starting with a clean slate, and a new emphasis on Rule 48 (hits to the head) to stand on.
In his first preseason in the position, Shanahan has already shined. He has ended the speculation and uncertainty around suspension length by instituting video responses and decisions on suspension-worthy plays. As one can see from the tape, Shanahan clearly lays out his entire reasoning for the length of suspension and offers viewers the exact angles and the rule that is referenced.
Thus far, Shanny has delivered bad news to six offenders around the league. The two worst incidents warranted 10 games (James Wisnewski, CBJ) and 6 games (Brad Staubitz, MIN). These suspensions are stiff, but Shanahan explains that he is simply trying “to make the game safer.” He’s made one thing clear, blind and reckless hits to the head will not be tolerated under his watch.
It is safe to say Shanahan has already made his mark. Following a terrible hit by wannabe Flyers tough guy Tom Sestito, the team waived him. While Sestito will still likely be suspended, his hit blew the opportunity he had to take the spot of his suspended teammate Jody Shelley. He will likely wind up in the AHL as a result.
Players on the edge of NHL rosters be warned–a fellow tough guy is watching. And he continues to have a big impact around the sport of hockey.