Brendan Shanahan says he isn't presiding over a league where goalies have to worry about getting hit, and thinks it's "irresponsible" for the Buffalo Sabres to suggest otherwise.
The NHL's new disciplinarian reacted strongly to complaints from the Sabres on Monday after he elected not to suspend Bruins forward Milan Lucic for his collision with Buffalo's Ryan Miller.
"I think Buffalo's comments are irresponsible to suggest that it's open season," Shanahan said at the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony. "I will have this warning for players: `It's not. If you run a goalie you're going to find yourself in the same situation that Lucic was today, you're going to have to explain yourself and you don't explain it sufficiently, and if I don't buy it, you're going to be suspended."
On Saturday, Miller was knocked to the ice by Lucic when the goalie strayed from his net to play the puck in the first period of Buffalo's 6-2 loss. Shanahan held a hearing with Lucic on Monday and was satisfied with his assertion that he didn't have time to avoid the collision.
"I judged this case for what this case was," Shanahan said.
Miller sustained a concussion on the play and called Lucic "gutless."
The Sabres were upset that the rugged Boston forward wasn't suspended and suggested it sent a message across the NHL that goalies won't be protected.
"It just means that teams will be to able do exactly what Lucic did," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff told reporters in Montreal. "Your goaltender can play the puck, we can run him over, we can hurt him and all you get is a two-minute minor penalty.
"That is essentially what that means — You can concuss the other team's goalkeeper ... it means it's fair game on goaltenders again."
Told of Shanahan's comments after Buffalo's 3-2 shootout win over the Canadiens, Ruff stood by his words.
"I said what I said, and I'm not going to back down from what I said," he said.