During Brendan Shanahan's video explanation of Sutton's suspension, he said the following statement;
"Although Sutton is not a repeat offender as defined by the CBA, we can't ignore his history of illegal hits."Actually, Mr. Shanahan, not only can you ignore the history, but by the rules of the CBA, you should ignore the history.
Andy Sutton was last suspended in October of 2005, six years ago.
From the Collective Bargaining Agreement on the definitions of "repeat offenders":
Status as a "first" or "repeat" offender shall be re-determined every eighteen (18) months, on a rolling basis, i.e., where a Player does not have another suspension for eighteen (18) months, his next suspension will be treated as a "first" offense.
A recipient of such a fine will not be treated as a "repeat" offender for disciplinary suspension purposes. However, such a disciplinary fine will carry consequences for the balance of that season. Any further discipline imposed in that season will take into account the offense for which the Player has been fined.
Status as a "first" or "repeat" offender shall be re-determined every eighteen (18) months. For example, where a Player is suspended for the first time, he is a repeat offender if he is suspended again within eighteen (18) months of the first incident.
If he is not suspended a second time within this eighteen (18) month period, he will no
longer be treated as a repeat offender for disciplinary purposes;
In case you forgot what Mr. Shanahan stated in his video explanation:
"Although Sutton is not a repeat offender as defined by the CBA, we can't ignore his history of illegal hits."
With this Sutton suspension being treated as if he were a repeat offender, the League has added more ammunition for the Players Association arguments in the next CBA negotiations.
For the most part, I have agreed with every suspension that Shanahan has handed out. As a Wild fan, I even agreed with giving Bouchard two games for his high stick incident. Bouchard basically set his own table by stating that it was his intent to slash at the hands. He basically said to the League that he intended to slash and cause harm. If Pierre Marc Bouchard would not have admitted to that during his initial hearing, I imagine there wouldn't have been a suspension at all.
For James Wisniewski, his suspension for two games was not for an illegal hit, however this would be a grey area because technically, it resets the 18 month repeat offender clock. His head hunting hit in April of 2010 was just over the 18 month mark, but again, his two game suspension in October of that same year would have reset his clock. The language is vague enough where if I were arguing it, the type of suspension wouldn't really matter.
I love this game and I don't want to see another lockout. The way that the league has been handling discipline pre-Shanahan, was already a sticking point for the Players Association. Now that there have been questionable called in the Shanahan era, the Players Association has a lot more ammunition to hold their ground on the topic of an independent discipline board.
If the NHL fights the union on this?
It could very well spell another NHL lockout.
This sport has just recently fully recovered from the last lockout. It absolutely cannot have another.