Max Pacioretty Suspended Three Games

The Shanhammer has officially dropped on Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty.

We talked about it on Saturday night, and the general consensus was that Pacioretty would likely sit a few games, following a dangerous hit on Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman and Quebec native Kris Letang.

Late in the third period, Letang came streaking up the ice with a Pens winger, cut across the high slot after the blueline, and wound up for a shot at the net. Pacioretty cut through in the opposite direction, looking for a hit. Unfortunately, Letang was hunched forward and looking elsewhere, and got a face-full of shoulder that would go on to break his nose and leave him bloodied on the ice. Following the insertion of a pin in his nose, as well as a speedy "concussion test", he would return to the game in overtime to score a controversial game-winning goal. 

Pacioretty reportedly apologized for the hit, and we have a feeling that the apology was as sincere as the hit was innocent and unintentional. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough for NHL disciplinarean Brendan Shanahan, who decided to have Pacioretty sit for three games.His explanation:

As Letang crosses the blue line, his head is up and his winger is driving to the net. In spite of the fact he knows a check is imminent, he still makes the decision to put the puck on the net. Cutting through the middle like this, all players accept the danger and expectation that a full body check may be looming. Letang makes the decision to sacrifice his body, and must accept the possibility of taking a hit to make the play.

However, what no player should expect is that his head will be picked and made the principal point of contact on such a hit.

Shanahan also made a point to cite Pacioretty's lack of supplemental discipline in the past (both for and against him, incidentally -- I'm looking at you, Zdeno), but that didn't seem to figure into the final decision, as the Habs forward will sit three games.

Here's the video explanation:


While I understand why Shanahan had to suspend Pacioretty (I predicted 2-3 games myself), there seems to be a few gaps in his logic. Shanahan pretty much admits that there was nothing Pacioretty could do to avoid hiding Letang in the face, yet he then goes on to say that it's Pacioretty's responsibility not to hit him in the face (there's that word again, "onus"). Personally, I didn't like how Patches streaked in to hit him, as there was no way Letang would have seen him, but it's a peculiar way to explain it. When someone's head is perched out the way Letang's is, how can we expect someone to miss it?

What I sincerely hope is that people stop bringing up the Chara incident every time a Hab is involved in some sort of incident. Yes, we get it, Chara got off Scott-free for a ridiculously dangerous hit, and ya, the chances of Pacioretty getting suspended if he was wearing Gold and black would likely be lower, but it doesn't matter. Objectively, Pacioretty deserved the suspension he was just handed, and that's something we have to live with.

We should at least be happy that Pacioretty wasn't in the Bell Centre parking lot trying to make excuses for himself 20 minutes after the game, and considering the comments he made while he was sitting at home with a broken neck (about being disgusted at the lack of a suspension towards Chara), we're sure that he's going to accept what came to him this evening.

Anyway, all of this means Pacioretty will miss the Canadiens Western road trip this week, as the Habs prepare for games against the Ducks, Sharks and Kings, and that can't be good news for the team, as Pacioretty is their leading goalscorer and obviously one of their best players. Their SoCal roadtrip was going to be difficult as it, now, Pacioretty's absense will make it even harder.

On the bright side, it's looking as if Andrei Markov could be making his long-awaited return this week, so you can bet TCL - Habs will be right on top of that situation as it develops.

What are your thoughts on Pacioretty's suspension? Too much? Not enough? Just right? Let us know in the comments below.


Chuck Gaston Jr's picture

I completely agree that a suspension was coming as the initial contact was to the head. It was a cross body, 90 degree angle check that resulted in a head shot. I think Shanahan had a strange explanation, but his explanation was sufficient. I actually never noticed Max shift his body weight to his right leg, which is probably the only reason he clipped the head and not hit the body. I guessed 2 games, but I guess Shanny was taking some flack and made it three. By Gold and Black, you wouldn't happen to mean the pens would you????

George Prax's picture

Aren't the pens more yellow than gold? And no, I mean the other gold and black team that always seems to escape suspension Tongue

Shanny's taking flack because he gave the same number of games to Deveaux for a flying elbow that was clearly more dangerous and intentional.

George Prax's picture

Side note: Habs recall Louis Leblanc.

demez's picture

He should have called Lucic to ask him how to get out of it. Honestly I knew a suspension was coming, its a bullshit rule with even more retarded interpretation. It has nothing to do with Pacioretty being a Habs player. It has to do with the fact that the suspension was based on Letang being aware he's shooting and making himself vulnerable yet being free of any consequences. Which is it? Can he shoot and take the hit or should he not shoot to avoid the hit? Cause the way the rule works is that players can do whatever the fuck they want and they'll just figure out punishments for it as they go along. There's nothing proactive about this suspension, there's no precedence being set. There's just more Campbell in a Shananan body suit making inconsistent plays. The fact that Deveaux got the exact same suspension is disgusting. The fact that had a midget like Gionta made this hit it would have been deemed clean and nothing given is disgusting. The NHL has been a bush league for years and it just keeps getting worse. I don't even bother anymore cause I'm just pegged a whiner because I'm a Habs fan, sometimes I wish I could live in fantasy land like Bruins, Pens, etc. fans that have carte blanche. It's a shame football season is almost over.

George Prax's picture

Yup, when I wrote this I hadn't even seen the Deveaux hit. The same suspension for what loooked like an intentional flying elbow? What the hell is that? Again, I'm for eliminating all contact to the head so I accept the suspension, but the more and more I think about the circumstances the more ridiculous it seems. The only thing that made sense in Shanahan's video is how he explained that Pacioretty shifted his weight right, didn't notice that and it's a good point.

But there's definitely a level of inconsistency here and I don't get it.

yves_on_habs's picture

Something I don't really see.... when Shannahan says his head didn't change position because he's in shooting motion. Actually I think it does. His head was lower because he is clearly slouched in a shooting position, couple that with the fact that he extends his body to shoot.

I don't like seeing guys get seriously hurt. Letang wasn't seriously hurt.

What frustrates me almost as much as the terrible hits we've seen in the past is the fact that this will likely continue to be a crap shoot. Some will get suspended. Others won't. Sometimes for hits that are so similar in delivery and result.

There are also factors in in one player just barely missing the body to body check as one is extending his body.... in the fraction of seconds this could also influence where the player gets hit... or clipped.

It's a crap shoot.

George Prax's picture

Yves, the problem is that the rule is to interpretable. They actually made it worse. Now, Shanahan has to consider the body position of both players, the angle both are at at the moment of the hit, how fast their going, if they shift their weight, circumstance, etc. Shanahan isn't a physicist, there's only so much he can make sense of a hit. The nature of the rule is what causes the inconsistency. This is why they just need to straight up ban any contact that is make directly to the head. That's the only way to stop the madness.

I strayed away from complaining because Pacioretty deserved a suspension the way *I* interpret the rule, but in reality it's a little infuriating in the explanation, especially considering he didn't give anything to Malone for the Campoli hit (obviously that was slightly different, Malone was coming head on, but on top of that he was looking for trouble). I was more upset with how the Pens handled Campoli in all honestly.