By Allan Muir
Apparently, roaring in from the hash marks to blast a player between the numbers and drive him headfirst into the boards is still frowned upon by the NHL.
After reviewing the evidence of Dion Phaneuf's cheapshot on Boston's Kevan Miller on Sunday, the Department of Player Safety has suspended Toronto's captain for a pair of games. He'll also forfeit more than $66,000 in salary to the Players' Emergency Relief Fund.
Interestingly, Brendan Shanahan lays some of the blame on Phaneuf's teammate, David Clarkson, noting that his slash buckled Miller's plant leg, contributing to the awkwardness and violence of his contact with the boards. Of course, it wouldn't have been an issue if Phaneuf laid off when he only saw numbers.
"The onus is on him to avoid the hit completely, or at least minimize it more than he does," Shanahan said. "Miller was never eligible to be hit like this in the first place."
This is the sort of hit we've seen routinely over the years and, more often than not, the player is sore but relatively unscathed from the contact. But it's also the kind of impact that has the potential to cause serious harm, including concussions and facial or back injuries. There are smarter decisions to be made in this situation, and suspensions like this should help reinforce that point.
Miller was clearly fouled, but not seriously injured on the play, so two games sends a message of non-tolerance while it leaves the league some room to lay the hammer down the next time this happens and the victim doesn't bounce up as readily as did Miller.
CAZENEUVE: NHL rules, The Code, and fighting meeting in dark place