Blue Jackets defenceman James Wisniewski, left, was suspended for 11 games, including eight in the regular season, and will forfeit $536,585.36 US is salary. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Brendan Shanahan is going to find out quickly that the job he now occupies as Senior VP in charge of player safety is not a lot of fun.
He has attacked his new position as judge, jury and jailor, not with a gavel, but a sledge hammer. As of Wednesday morning he had handed out $642,952 US worth of suspensions to seven players and is banning them for 44 games, 24 of which are regular season. (We are still eight days away from the season even starting.)
The standard of enforcement has been set extremely high, which has to be the mandate of those at the league office, and I'm talking about those who are much further up the food chain than Brendan. Is this what all the stakeholders in the game expected when they were advocating changes to our game this summer?
I certainly can't see the NHL Players' Association advocating all of these suspensions, but the purpose of this blog is not to debate headshots in our game; it's to get a feel for how the stakeholder might react as these suspensions mount.
James Wisniewski has been suspended for three exhibition games and eight regular-season games for a hit to the head on Cal Clutterbuck, and will not be allowed to play until Oct 25. He will forfeit $536,585.36 in salary.
If James were able to keep the money these are a few of the things he may have been able to buy with it. He could buy every player on his team and the coaches a President's Edition diamond Rolex watch, or, if he really wanted value for his dollar he could buy Kate Middleton's wedding ring. She is the one married to the Prince. Needless to say he has lost a ton of dough. Happy? Not. I can't believe that the players or the Players Association could be happy stakeholders.
Brendan must have the support of the General Managers to effectively do his job and in the "win" game Scott Howson, who is the general manager of Columbus, has lost his best defenceman for a month. Last year Columbus missed the playoffs because Chicago won one more game a month than the Blue Jackets.
Owners must pay
The owners of the team must pay $536,538.36 to the Players Helping Players fund. Great fund, but I am sure ownership would love to use the money for something else ... like making the playoffs. These guys can't be happy and the season hasn't even begun!
Everyone's in first place right now. Just wait till the season gets going, things really heat up, the race is tight, and, voila, Shanahan has to lay down a double-digit suspension just before the playoffs.
Don't forget, though, that the most important stakeholder is our fans. How will it help our fans if the new level of tolerance is set so low that it's an Ovechkyn or Crosby that inadvertently crosses that line and misses regular season or even playoff games?
So let's take a positive out of the negative that surrounds these suspensions. We can assume that the Players helping Players fund will never go dry because of this new standard. We can assume that as Shanahan describes these suspensions online, he will be on the air more than me.
It's been a tragic summer for hockey and for the people who have helped build this game. Here's the positive: let's use some of this suspension money to give back to the families of those who've impacted the game and whose kids are now fatherless because of events of this summer.
Wade Belak, E.J. Maguire, Brad Macrimmon and Igor Koralev (just to name a few) all have kids and some of this money could make a difference. I get that this is a CBA issue but if the stakeholders want to clean up the game on the ice then let's expand our help off the ice.
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?