The Department of Player Safety has decided not to assess further discipline to Tom Wilson for his hit on Philadelphia Flyers forward Brayden Schenn.
Brendan Shanahan, the director of player safety, explains his ruling in this video.
Shanahan states that Schenn put himself in a vulnerable position, which added to the violence of the hit.
Shanahan also addresses the distance Wilson travelled and explains the replay frame by frame. He says Wilson had not decided to hit Schenn until he was inside the faceoff circle. Shanahan goes into how Wilson stopped skating at the top of the faceoff circle and read the play. Wilson then redirected his route to pressure Schenn.
I have several criticisms of Shanahan’s ruling.
- Shanahan’s number one fault is consistency. Shanahan has rarely stayed the same in his suspensions and fines. While it needs to be acknowledged that almost every hit in hockey is different, Shanahan has been all over the place when it comes to controversial hits to the head and on the boards. His most controversial ruling thus far has been on James Neal and Shawn Thornton. Neal was suspended five games for intentionally kneeing Brad Marchand in the head. Thornton was suspended 15 games for slew footing Brooks Orpik and punching him while on he was on the ice.
- Shanahan says Wilson took one stride to initiate the hit with Schenn. I counted three strides when Wilson began skating again.
- While Schenn did put himself in a vulnerable position, Wilson did fly in at a dangerous speed and hit Schenn when he was at least three feet from the boards. Whether Wilson intended to hurt Schenn or not, that kind of hit has no place in hockey.
- While many Philadelphia Flyers fans believe the NHL has an unfair bias against them, rulings like this do not help the NHL’s cause. This is the second time in three games – see Alexei Emelin’s hit on Steve Downie* – a Flyer has been injured with a controversial hit from the other team. Both times, neither player received discipline from Shanahan.
*During the replay at 31 seconds, it appears as if Emelin pulls a “chicken wing” and moves hit elbow so it hits Downie.