Updated: No Suspension for Ryan Malone For Campoli Hit

Updated:

While we weren't blessed with Brendan Shanahan's beautiful face in one of his suspension videos, the Shanhammer did offer his take on the hit, and why no suspension was handed down.

 

“We felt that this hit was the most challenging one so far in this preseason for the Department of Player Safety to evaluate. In the end, we felt that Malone had committed to the hit when Campoli was upright. However, when the contact was made, Campoli's head position significantly changed just prior to the hit. 

"There are elements about the hit that we don't like – specifically, the principal point of contact being the head and that it was not a full-body check. But the overriding factor in our judgment was that Campoli's loss of the puck and subsequent bending forward for it just prior contributed significantly, if not entirely, to those elements."

Let's go to the video:

 

Again, we're not sure that we buy the whole "leaning" argument. I get that Shanahan is simply following the letter of his own, new law, but it doesn't really make any sense. If a player has a player chasing him from behind for the puck, he shouldn't have to worry about a player lining him up for an open-ice hit skating in diagonally from the slot. There's an inherent flaw in this that's going to need to be addressed going forward. As much as Malone might have not been able to adjust at the last second, it wasn't exactly like Campoli had anywhere to go either. 

In the comments, Tyg said that "the end result is what needs punishing, not intent", and I tend to agree with her. Malone was still lining up a hit, he was still (clearly) out for blood the entire game, and Campoli still left the game as a direct result of that hit. There may have been little Shanahan could have really done here, but it's disappointing. 

But life goes on...

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From Earlier: News hitting the wire this morning out of Twitter and various other media outlets is that the Shanhammer will not be dropped on Ryan Malone, following his vicious hit on brand new Habs defenseman Chris Campoli. The Tampa Bay Lightning will go unpunished heading into this week's NHL regular season debut.

Despite the fact that neither Malone nor Campoli returned to the game following the hit -- the former due to a match penalty, the latter due to the effects of the incident, where he was hit directly in the head -- and despite the fact that Malone had it out for the opposing team since the opening whistle.

In case you missed the incident from this past Saturday night's game in Quebec city, here it is:

 

 

We really shouldn't be all that surprised. After all, the Montreal Canadiens are hardly the team to get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to such incidents against them. But one would imagine that a direct shot to the head from a player clearly out for blood (and he clearly got his blood shortly thereafter) from the start of the game would be a prime candidate for a suspension, even a small one.

The apparent argument for the lack of a suspension seems to be that Campoli leaned forward at the last minute. But I don't buy that. Campoli was being hassled from behind by another Bolts player for the puck, and lost it milliseconds before Malone made contact. The only thing for him to do was lean forward, so that the approaching Malone -- or someone else -- wouldn't take the puck away from him, leading to a turnover and likely a scoring chance for the Lightning.

And if that argument isn't enough, just look at the extenuating circumstances of the play. It was 4-1, with the game easily in the hands of the Canadiens. The incident came off a faceoff in the Canadiens zone, where Campoli was completely harmless against the Lightning, and his attention was turned away from Malone, who came charging from the high slot, thanks to the player trying to hook him for the puck from behind.

The hit was completely unnecessary, and while I try not to put myself in the brain of someone like Ryan Malone when I write these things, it was pretty obvious what he was trying to do, no matter whether he was aiming for the head or not. The hit was dangerous, reckless, and more importantly, without reason and completely avoidable.

Thankfully, Campoli made the trip to Toronto with the team, which likely means he avoided a concussion or any other major injury, but that's obviously not the best way for a player to start his career in Montreal.

It'll be interesting to see whether the Shanahan will offer a video explanation as to why he decided not to suspend Malone. They've been incredibly refreshing to see when a player actually gets suspended, but as the NHL's new disciplinarian will soon find out, people don't really care what has to be said when a player is actually suspended. The relevant information is when one goes unpunished, seemingly without reason.

This is the first real test for the Shanhammer. It's only going to get tougher from here.

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No matter what ends up happening with Malone, the Canadiens will have to move on and focus on their season opener this Thursday against the Leafs.

Their overshadowed 5-1 win showed that there was no reason to panic following all the pre-season losses before it. While work still needs to be done on the special teams and in the faceoff circles, the Habs looked crisp and ready for the regular season. Carey Price was on his game, Scott Gomez looked like he had something to prove, and the Canadiens actually looked sort of stacked on offense, despite several injuries. 

The team will start the season with two big forwards they didn't have last year in Max Pacioretty and Erik Cole, as well as a big presence on the third line in Andrei Kostitsyn, to counter balance some of the smaller forwards. They will also have a decision to make in the number three slot once Lars Eller returns from injury, and that's actually a good thing. Question marks remain on defense, but the team is actually looking pretty good heading into the opener.

Check back to TCL later this week for more as the Canadiens look to open their season.

6 Comments

Tyg's picture

I don't understand the logic behind the decision, but my faith in the NHL's disciplinary process continues to remain somewhere along the lines of "meh". Also Brian Wilde is reporting that Cole is practicing on the 3rd line today, not Kostitsyn. I like AK but I'm not sure Cole is a 3rd liner and I don't like him there. Didn't he start last game on the 3rd line? We all know how JM hates to shuffle around until he loses a game or two. I expect Cole to start the year on Wee Davey's flank for that reason.

George Prax's picture

I missed Saturday's game so I can't really comment on that but I don't like it either. Cole was signed for the first line, at the very least the second. Starting him the first game of the season on the third line is a little ridiculous no matter how the rest of the wingers are playing. He needs to be next to Cammy and Plekanec.

As for the suspension, I get why they didn't suspend him (Campoli leaned at the last second) but I don't like it because he didn't really have a choice. I'm hoping Shanny puts out a video for it later.

Tyg's picture

Like I said on twitter - a headshot is a headshot. Anything but suspension means splitting hairs to justify a particular headshot, which to me is unacceptable. You can intend to do it or not, and move your head at the last second or not, but the end result is what needs punishing, not intent. Besides Malone left his skates to deliver the shot anyway, which to me is a clear intent to injure regardless of where he is making contact, so that bird won't fly with me either. Couple that with his hassling of Subban and spearing Price into the net, along with every other cheap shot that night and he was looking for trouble from the first puck drop. So saying he didn't intend to injure Campoli is flat out BS.

FWIW I like Cole with Gomez. They had some fab chemistry in Halifax.

George Prax's picture

Well it's pretty clear in the new rule that if a player changes his positioning at the last second it falls into a grey area. There has to be both a clear shot to the head and as a result of that nuance, intent. The simple truth is that Campoli switched positions, but that's the flaw in the rule... while making a hockey play and skating at full speed, how do you distinguish a player changing his positioning voluntarily or by instinct?

But I totally agree with you. It's not the motive that needs judgement, it's the actual act, and that's going to be Shanhammer's biggest problem going forward.

Adam Pardes's picture

Regardless of how Campoli moved, it seems pretty clear to me that Malone ducked his shoulder/elbow into CC's head. Malone didn't line him up for a body check -- he knew where he was aiming.

George Prax's picture

Updated with quotes from the Shanhammer and my thoughts on what he said.