A New Era in NHL Discipline: Jody Shelley Suspension Explained by Brendan Shanahan Via Video

A New Era in NHL Discipline: Jody Shelley Suspension Explained by Brendan Shanahan Via Video

When I was a young hockey fan, my daily rooting interests centered on the Flyers, as you might expect. However, as much as I wanted them to win above all other teams, I was for many years also interested in a number of players from other teams at any given time. Principal among them was Patrick Roy. He was the rookie goalie who took the NHL by storm the year I really remember first getting into hockey. Anyone who knows me well knows he's probably my favorite player of all time.

Others included, oddly enough, Jaromir Jagr when he was with Pittsburgh but before I considered them an arch rival, Mario Lemieux, Cam Neely, and Brendan Shanahan, to name just a few. I always liked tough forwards who could score (not that Jagr filled the former quality, he was just amazing to watch play).

Because I admired him as a player and believed he respected both the glamorous and tough aspects of the game, I was perfectly satisfied when the NHL promoted Shanahan to the disciplinary or "player safety" position formerly held by Colin Campbell. Campbell's reign was a joke to fans and media alike, with the Wheel of Justice illustrating the NHL's manner of doling out discipline after dirty hits on the ice.

With increased scrutiny due in part to increasingly observant online and TV media, the old way wasn't going to fly anymore, and Shanny was made the new face of discipline in the league. In addition to this media scrutiny, there was medical attention to the fact that more players' careers were being shortened by the many blows to the head that can occur within a game, both legally and illegally. The league's response, admirably, is a pledge to reduce contact to the head, punish repeat offenders, and to do so as transparently as possible.

On Thursday night, we got our first taste of the progress the NHL intends to make in this regard, and to no one's surprise, one of the first men to be made an example of was a Phildelphia Flyer. Video and commentary below.

If you haven't seen our previous post containing the video of Jody Shelley boarding Darryl Boyce, check that out before going further, or just watch this video, which is the centerpiece of this post.

While it certainly could have been worse, I'm not sure I saw anyone, regardless of the team they support or work for, come out after the game saying Shelley didn't deserve a suspension for that. The league has declared its intention to legislate against and discipline exactly that time of hit and several others out of the game. You cannot hit a defenseless player into the boards from behind.

That much was obvious before the changes of the offseason. What this video shows is that the days of these decisions being made in a puzzling and often incongruous manner are over. Transparency is paramount alongside player safety in the NHL's new manifesto, and so far, despite one of the first suspension recipients being a Flyer, it's hard to be anything less than completely satisfied with what's transpired.

If a repeat offender had smeared one of our forwards' faces along the boards, we'd be calling out for both what Jay Rosehill did (beat Shelley soundly in an on-ice battle) and the league followed with—a suspension. For a moment, I was a bit surprised by the length of the suspension (the remainder of the preseason and five games of the regular season), but it makes sense to me that the league is sending it's message fast and clear. Best of all, it appears to be attempting to shed the cloak that obscured its decision-making and allowed for abuse and inconsistency.  

Perhaps that's optimistic, but this is in the very least a good first step toward putting a joke of a legal system in the past while hopefully making the league safer for its players. The NHL has posted a video commentary by its disciplinarian on its web site, for all to see and embed. We'll be watching the process closely this season to see whether it continues on the path it set foot on today. While transparency is an obvious benefit to the league's new initiative, consistency must accompany it.

Our guy got a suspension exceeding my expectations by a few games (aided of course by the fact that half of it is in the preseason), but if subsequent rulings are consistent with this one, you'll find no objection here.

Penn State not going to College Football Playoff, likely headed to Rose Bowl

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Penn State not going to College Football Playoff, likely headed to Rose Bowl

Penn State's wild comeback win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship was not enough.

The Nittany Lions were not selected to the four-team College Football Playoff, finishing fifth in the rankings.

Undefeated Alabama takes the top spot and will play No. 4 Washington. No. 2 Clemson will face No. 3 Ohio State.

Penn State earned its signature win of the season, handing felllow Big Ten member Ohio State its only loss of the season. 

However, Penn State sputtered in the beginning of the year, losing to unranked Pittsburgh and was thrashed by Michigan — who finished sixth in the College Football Playoff rankings — 49-10.

The Nittany Lions likely will play in the Rose Bowl, facing either USC or Colorado. The official announcement will be made later Sunday.

Dario Saric halts slump with 'best game as a 76er'

Dario Saric halts slump with 'best game as a 76er'

Dario Saric came into the NBA knowing his rookie season would be one of ups and downs. He would have successes based on his talent and struggle because of the newness of the league and matchups.

Saturday’s performance against the Celtics was one of those highlight nights. Saric scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, both tying career-highs, for his third double-double. He was efficient in his performance, playing 27 minutes off the bench in the Sixers' 107-106 loss.

“I thought that was his best game as a 76er,” Brett Brown said.

Saric had struggled the night before against the Magic. He barely made a dent in 16 minutes, posting just two points (1 for 5 from the field) without a single rebound. The poor showing was on his mind Saturday, as he got ready for the second game of the back-to-back. He went in early to get up extra shots, met with coaches, studied film and thought about the matchup throughout the day.

“I prepared a little bit more for this game,” Saric said. “After I have some bad rhythm of five or six, maybe, games. Now I concentrate more. I try to give my best, try to play my best, try to think before everything happens.”

Saric showed his aggressiveness in crunch time in the fourth quarter, when he scored seven points and five rebounds in eight minutes. He nailed a three to cut the Celtics' lead to 92-91 with 4:28 to play. Then with 1:09 remaining, Saric’s free throws cut the Celtics' lead to two points. On the other end of the court, he snagged the rebound off an Isaiah Thomas miss and scored a game-tying layup from Jahlil Okafor.  

“He played great,” Okafor said. “He’s working hard every day, getting used to the NBA process. It was good to see hard work paying off for him.”

Saric has been adjusting to new roles throughout the season. He was thrown into the starting power forward spot when Ben Simmons was injured, and then moved to the bench when the team acquired Ersan Ilyasova. On Saturday, Brown also played Saric at small forward in Robert Covington’s (knee) absence, a shift the Sixers may try again.

“He’s a good teammate,” Brown said. “He’s biding his time. He understands he’s a rookie. Incrementally, he’ll be given these opportunities. Tonight he did and he responded and you’re seeing continued growth.”

Saric still is early in his NBA career, and Saturday's showing was a game he can look back on and study for the rest of the season. 

“I feel like tonight … you’d walk away and say, ‘Shoot, that’s a hell of a player for playing 20 games in the NBA and he did what he just did against a hell of a team,’” Brown said. “I’m proud of what we saw all over the place from Dario.”