Topic: Andrew Shaw suspended one playoff game for language.
Jahn: Hated the suspension
Mich: accepted the suspension
I think the NHL has every right to come back with a suspension after the fact within a reasonable time frame. I really have no concrete way to measure a reasonable time frame as a strict rule. All I can say is in this particular case, it’s not like they looked at it, officially decided to do nothing, and then went back on that. It was a quick enough turnaround that it’s hard to say whether or not they were assessing it the whole time and even harder to prove with certainty they had planned on doing nothing until public backlash forced their hand.
Even if the only reason they acted was because of the public, again in this particular case I have no problem with that.
What Shaw said was deemed offensive enough to go beyond the boundaries of expected “emotion” in the “regular heat of the battle”. Even though the official turned a deaf ear to it, that doesn’t mean it’s not wrong. Just like Player Safety can review an incident that may not have been penalized in the moment, the NHL can also review incidents like this after the fact.
That brings me to my response on your discussion of whether what Shaw said could be defined as hate speech. I don’t think the league should be in the business of determining that. What they should have is a zero tolerance for certain words or phrases regardless of context or interpretation. I always remember the Seinfeld episode “The Parking Space” where Mike tells Kramer he thinks Jerry is phony. Later, when Kramer tells Jerry and he confronts Mike, Mike tries to say he meant it complimentary, and Jerry asks him to use it in a sentence. He says “that Michael Jordan. He’s so phony”. Besides being funny, the point is it doesn’t matter what you meant by the words you use. What matters is that this particular word struck a cord with Jerry. The word Shaw used struck a cord with the league, and like the board game Taboo, if that particular word is on the blacklist for the NHL, it doesn’t matter how or when it was used.
Another important fact is that the NHL, led by Patrick Burke, has been a front runner of major sports for the celebration of and respect toward the LGBT community and openly identifying players through the You Can Play program. Patrick Burke also happens to be extremely familiar to the Department of Player Safety. The story of Brendan Burke should not and will not be forgotten. This is one issue the NHL has been remarkably consistent on, and the Shaw suspension supports the trend.
As for whether cameras are going to be the cause of more disciplinary action, I seriously doubt it will become a habit. We’ve already been reading lips during hockey broadcasts for decades. The players will say what they say.
Winner of week 29: Mich
Quote of the week – Jahn: “You don’t have the right not to be offended.” What?
Listen to TLO Podcast episode 29 here: The Shawshank Suspension