Weber Skates Away Smiling
The NHL's choice not to suspend Nashville defenseman Shea Weber for his postgame actions on Henrik Zetterberg is pathetic and shameful. Weber has been fined $2,500 which is the maximum allowed under the current CBA. The NHL is failing its players and fans, particularly young ones with this negligence.
If you didn't see the game or a replay as the last second of the third period ran out, Henrik Zetterberg checked Weber cleanly. Weber then threw an elbow towards Zetterberg's head, clipping him and then grabbed his head and smashed it into the boards. This is the NHL, not the WWE. Weber was assessed a two minute roughing penalty which of course he didn't have to serve since the game had concluded.
The NHL has stated time and time again over the past season that it is committed to player safety and is attempting to crackdown on hits that can lead to concussions and permanent brain damage. The medical danger of concussions struck the NHL gravely with the death of Derek Boogaard who had substantially worse brain damage than most enforcers over 10 years his senior. Weber's act could have given Zetterberg a concussion and had Zetterberg not been using a visor, significant facial injuries. However, Zetterberg was able to skate away and is fine according to Red Wings staff.
The NHL should either drop its message of renewed efforts at player safety or stop being hypocritical in its punishment of players. Earlier this season, Zdeno Chara was not suspended for his damaging hit on Max Pacioretty which involved a similar sequence with a player's head being driven into a structure around the rink.
What message is Brendan Shanahan sending to youth who are following the Predators-Red Wings series? You can smash a player's head into the glass with a blatant attempt to injure and only lose 0.03% of your annual income to fines? Does the fact that Henrik Zetterberg was able to skate away unscathed diminish the hazardous nature of Weber's actions? There are clean, physical plays like the hit I hope Niklas Kronwall lands on Shea Weber in Game 2 and dirty plays which have no room in the NHL like Weber's hit.
Brendan Shanahan and other officials charged with discipline had a chance to take a stand for player safety by suspending Weber but they fiddled it away. Perhaps Shea Weber needs to do a history lesson and see what started from a player named Lemieux landing a dirty hit from behind on a Red Wing.
Sidenote: John Tortotorella was fined $20,000 for [true] comments about certain Pittsburgh forwards, but Weber only gets $2,500 and yes I know that is the maximum.
-A.K. Bennett, @MrAdrianKeith