Either Brendan Shanahan owed Kevin Dineen a huge favor, or the league disciplinarian was given a tape of a different Ranger-Panther game to review. Or, perhaps the league has confused itself to the point where they are no longer able to determine what is and what isn't deemed worthy of a suspension.
Whatever the case may be, Shanahan's decision to NOT suspend Tomas Kopecky for his abhorrent action in last night's game sends, to put it mildly, a mixed message to the league and in the process makes the NHL look even more ass-backwards (to steal a recent quote from John Tortorella).
The central theme of the league's endless string of disciplinary action this year has been all about "protecting" the players and trying to remove head shots from the game. So Kopecky, in frustration, turns and wallops an unsuspecting Del Zotto in the head with a right hook last night and the league doesn't consider that suspension-worthy? Wow. This one's really difficult to comprehend.
Have I been misinterpreting everything up until this point, or is the NHL right smack in the middle of a concussion epidemic that's been talked about ad nauseum since NHL poster boy Sidney Crosby got his bell rung in last season's Winter Classic?
Crosby has been absent from the game (for the most part) nearly a year now due to post-concussion symptoms, players are being diagnosed with head injuries at an alarming rate, and Shanahan's reaction to Kopecky's cheap shot on Del Zotto is to give each player a $2,500 fine? If that decision weren't so utterly reprehensible, it would be downright laughable.
Before I go any further, don't think I'm excusing Del Zotto for his part in last night's melee, as he clearly got his stick up high on Kopecky just prior to the incident. But there's a big difference between being careless with your stick and blatantly sucker-punching your opponent.
I suspect the fact that Del Zotto came away unscathed (we think) played a part in Shanahan's decision, but should that really exonerate Kopecky from his reckless behavior? Not in my opinion. Kopecky's head shot could very well have caused Del Zotto to suffer a concussion, and while it appears the Ranger defenseman escaped injury, just the mere fact that the Panther forward intentionally administered a blow to an opponent's head should have warranted a suspension and sent a message to the rest of the NHL that actions like this cannot and will not be condoned.
Sorry Shanny, but you and the league shamelessly dropped the ball on this one.