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Penguins forward James Neal was suspended for five games following his clearly apparent "accidental" knee on Bruins winger Brad Marchand.

Brendan Shanahan's commentary in the video is rather harsh, with the money quote being: "it is our belief after viewing this incident that this is more serious than simply not avoiding contact with a fallen player."

So no, Mr. Neal, the NHL and the Department of Player Safety does not believe you.

The NHL got this one right, in terms of not falling for Neal's claims of innocence. Neal changed his direction to line-up with Marchand's head, and then continued to skate on after hitting him as if nothing happened. It was a really dirty, sneaky, weaselly thing for Neal to try and pull-off, and he'll sit for four more games following last night's tilt between the Bluejackets and the Pens.

Bruinslife writer Cam Hasbrouck wrote a great piece yesterday breaking down the incident even further.



As for Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf, he was suspended two games for his boarding hit on Bruins D-man Kevan Miller on Sunday night.
 

Again, Shanahan explains what the replay clearly shows: Phaneuf lining Miller up, never slowing down, and drilling him between the numbers. Phaneuf has never been previously suspended in his career.

And as it usually happens afterward suspensions are handed down/not given, the discussion becomes: was it a fair punishment? Does deliberately kneeing a downed player on the ice, with a prior history of reckless play, warrant more than a five game ban for Neal?  Does maliciously boarding a defenseless player, even though Phaneuf has no prior suspension history and no "obvious" injury was sustained, warrant just a two game ban?

Its the fine-line that the NHL and the DPS has to toe, as they cannot allow the emotions of different fanbases to enter the decisions that they make.

That being said, sometimes their decision making can be unpredictable, where they are willing to give some cases the benefit of the doubt, and others not.


Mark Burke 12/10/2013 02:50:00 PM Edit

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