It took quite a while for Brendan Shanahan to make his ruling on Andrew Shaws hit on Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith. When he did, it was noticeable.
Shaw was suspended three games for his hit on Smith in Game 2 of the Blackhawks first-round series with the Coyotes. It seemed a harsh ruling, when compared with some of the others that have come down recently. It also took long enough to come; the ruling was announced around 2 p.m. Central time, just six hours before the Blackhawks and Coyotes dropped the puck for Game 3 at the United Center.
Shaw will miss tonights game, as well as Games 4 and 5. Michael Frolik is his likely replacement. Smith finished Game 2 but did not practice Monday. While Smith participated in morning skate on Tuesday, coach Dave Tippett said the goaltender was a game-time decision.
In his video explanation of the ruling, Shanahan said that a goalkeeper is not fair game, just because hes outside the crease area.
However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease, provided the attacking player has made reasonable effort to avoid such contact, said Shanahan. Shaw does not make a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.
Whats more, this is not a skater and goaltender colliding while pursuing a loose puck. Shaw skates a considerable distance and hits the head of stationary goaltender who has possession of the puck. There is no opposing player near Shaw, therefore the path he takes to Smith is entirely up to him, and the onus is on him to make every effort to avoid the goalie.
Shanahan said the NHL took into consideration the fact that Smith remained in the game and suffered no apparent injury. He also took into consideration that Shaw has no prior finessuspensions in his brief NHL career.
The Coyotes were not happy from the hit from the start, and never backed down from their opinions. That includes Tippett, who reiterated his thoughts on it this morning.
Its a blatant hit to the head, with no intent to miss the goalie, Tippett said. Ive gone through a lot of these meetings with the NHL. Thats the exact same hit theyre trying to take out of the game.
Now the Blackhawks will go on without Shaw, whose energy and aggressive play has been critical down the stretch.
Hes really come along since he came up the second time, Patrick Sharp said. Hell be in their face, quick to pucks and he goes to puck areas hard. Hes a key player for us.
Jamal Mayers echoed the same sentiment.
You lose a lot of energy, he said. Im sure the other team has to be aware where he is. Hes not afraid to go to those tough areas. Hes been chipping in, in a lot of areas for us.
See the complete explanation video below: