Detroit Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey launched an elbow into the grill of Tomas Kopecky this past weekend. For this, he was suspended one game. ONE game. While there wasn’t the backstory and animosity of Duncan Keith’s elbow on Daniel Sedin, who swapped cheapshots all night (plus it was Blackhawks/Canucks), it was almost as cheap.
I’m not outraged at Quincey so much, I am though at Brendan Shanahan. Why? The verbiage used in his video- which could easily screw himself over in the coming months.
Firstly, the video if you haven’t seen it.
My issue is the phrase come around the 1:35 mark.”He suffered no apparent injury”.
Jonathan Toews played at least two games with a concussion. Sidney Crosby played after the Winter Classic until he was hit again by Victor Hedman. Adrenaline can mask all kinds of ailments and injuries temporarily, we see it in every sport. Kopecky seems to be fine, but the precedent is dangerous; suspending a player before we know the full evaluation of the player victimized by the suspendable play. While I do appreciate Shanahan’s swift action, and quick decision, this could’ve been an absolute mess. Tomas Kopecky isn’t as essential to the Panthers as Toews is to the Hawks, but if Kopecky’s symptoms didn’t surface until after the suspension was levied… yikes.
Shanahan has a tough job, no doubt about it. But rushing to make a quick decision before we know for a fact that Kopecky is okay (at least waiting a couple days instead of making a decision less than 24 hours later) could’ve been a real black eye for the league. In hindsight, the fairer thing to do in these situations is either:
- Suspend the player indefinitely until full details of the medical report are filed, at least 24 hours after the game, and deduct the time served from the final suspension penalty.
- Do no action until the full medical details are filed, at least 24 hours after the game, then judge the penalty.
Head injuries have too many variables, and are not consistent enough to say “well he appears to be ok” or “looks like he’s hurt, five games”. Listening to the language Shanahan uses throughout the video, he really peels the skin off the orange and condemns the hit by Quincey, but seems to use the fact that Kopecky didn’t APPEAR to be injured as the deciding factor in the verdict. When two of the best in the league, Crosby and Toews, don’t show immediate symptoms after suffering concussions, the NHL might want to rethink their policy on supplemental discipline.
It’s not about being quick, it’s about being right.