Enough with the Shanahan-anigans!
Folks in Buffalo are still rehashing the first meeting between the Sabres and the Boston Bruins, despite a solid showing in their second match-up this season, and much has already been said on the matter. It’s a town with fierce loyalty to goaltenders, and when Milan Lucic ran into Ryan Miller, well, it seemed to the Buffalo fans that Shanahan would have to do something after the on-ice officials called Lucic for a minor penalty only.
Shanahan began the season with a hard line on tough hits, working diligently to ensure player safety, doling out fines and suspensions for dubious checks whether they resulted in serious injury or not. So imagine the Sabre fans’ surprise when the announcement came down that Shanahan was not assigning any additional penalty to Lucic!
Now, I like Milan Lucic. He’s got that Chris Pronger-esque ability to play as close to dirty as he can, getting away with whatever possible. He’s a big man, strong on his skates, not afraid to drop the gloves. He was one of the only things I enjoyed about the Bruins last year, and everyone knows you feel different about a guy depending on what sweater he wears. Buffalo would love this guy if he played here. But he doesn’t–Ryan Miller does.
Miller’s had a rough stretch, all very public. Dropping cuss words in media interviews, insulting the fans out of frustration, speaking up at the lack of supplemental discipline from Shanahan on Lucic, all on top of dealing with the aftermath of a concussion, suffered most likely when Lucic ran into him, his helmet flew off, and his head hit the ice.
I don’t want hockey to lose its violent edge, mind you. I enjoy a good hockey fight, and was beyond surprised to see the Sabres come together and have a little bit of a line scuffle with the Bruins in the second game, which Boston ended up winning in a shoot-out. Not wholly unlike the Buffalo-Calgary brawl of ’91, a showing of some actual teamsmanship in a Sabres squad that’s looked pretty flat from lack of chemistry. Could these violent incidents, and Shanahan’s lack of involvement really be what it takes to get the team to gel?
We’ll have to wait and see what the rest of the season holds, whether Shanahan will go back to his tough stance or not. Miller’s injury at the hands of Lucic could set an upsetting precedent, though, as the pendulum swings the other way. Bogosian nailed Eakin’s head in Carolina the other night, and nothing supplemental comes down for this one either…
Toughen up, Shanahan. Enough shenanigans. Hard line or no line? Don’t be afraid to be hated, don’t become a joke–remember to protect the players and that will ensure the integrity of the game, eh!