Alex Edler suspended two games for Mike Smith collision, because whatever (VIDEO)

The face of evil.

The Canucks are already having to get creative in order to ice a competitive lineup. Thursday night in Phoenix, they had defenceman Keith Ballard playing as a winger. On the third line. If that doesn’t say something about how incredibly shorthanded they are, I don’t know that does.

And now they’re going to be even more shorthanded. The Shanahammer has come down on Alexander Edler for his charge on Coyotes’ netminder Mike Smith and it’s come down absurdly, head-scratchingly, absolutely what-the-effingly hard: Edler will sit for two games. On the bright side, they have a third-line winger they can probably convert.

Here’s Rob Blake, I think, with the explanation:

The Canucks issued a brief, terse statement on the suspension. If you’re wondering, Mike Gillis disagreed with the Department’s assessment:

As an organization we respect the NHL and its process for supplemental discipline. While we may not agree with this ruling, we will move forward and prepare for our important game tomorrow in Los Angeles. We do not intend to comment further on this matter.

I’m impressed that there were still 3 whole sentences after all the profanity was edited out.

I’m with Gillis on this one. I don’t even know what to tell you and I don’t have much to say. I disagreed with aspects of the Jannik Hansen suspension, but a game didn’t surprise me. I disagree with pretty much everything about this one. I’ve already made my opinion of this incident perfectly clear, and while these videos occasionally catch something the layman might have missed the first time around, this time, there’s nothing present in the explanation that changes my mind in the slightest.

Yes, Edler “does not make any effort to minimize or avoid contact”, as the video states. But, as I said this morning, that’s largely because he’s not expecting Mike Smith to be there, or to suddenly suck up all the space like a black hole:

Smith appears behind the net unexpectedly while the Canucks are trying to regain possession of a puck on a powerplay. Edler is following the puck over his right shoulder, and when he looks ahead of him, already on his way behind the goal, suddenly Smith is out. Considering most goalies stay in their net while the opposition is in their zone on a powerplay, it’s hard to say Edler should have known Smith was going to be there.

Furthermore, while Smith originally appears to be planning to push the puck towards the far boards, explaining why Edler would speed up and hope to slide past him, Smith swivels at the last second, suddenly making himself unavoidable.

These images here and here, taken less than a second apart, illustrate the way Smith opens himself up wide for the collision. Edler’s only option was to come to a screeching halt in front of Smith and honestly, he may still have collided with him if he’d tried. In some sense, suspending Edler here is like suspending the car that hits the frog in Frogger.

The video makes no mention of any of this. Not a single mention of Mike Smith’s inexplicable decision to close off the entirety of the space behind the net with his body while the Canucks were in the Phoenix zone on a powerplay. The lesson: all goalies should do this. It’s a fantastic penalty-kill strategy.

Two games is a baffling decision. It remains two games more than this play deserves, but it’s also one game more than even what I thought might be the worst-case scenario. As our narrator says, there’s “No malicious intent on this play.” So why, then, does a player with no history of dirty play earns repeat offender status on a play that, by the Department’s own admission is free of intent — a play on which even ICBC would be dividing blame?

Just baffling. The Department’s video does a great job of explaining why a penalty was called. As for why it necessitated a suspension video, the explanation is nonexistent.

Finally, while it’s easy to do, let’s refrain from comparing this hit to the Rick Nash non-suspension the DOPS also gave us today. I agree that it’s a bit silly for Edler to sit for two for an accidental collision that wasn’t entirely his fault while Nash carries right along after a leaping hit, but the two plays are very different, and comparing them is a fool’s errand.

Frankly, trying to look to almost anything for precedent, or even make sense of some suspensions in isolation — like, say, this one — is becoming increasingly difficult.

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30 comments

  1. steveB
    March 22, 2013

    Bizzaro World, we’re living in it.

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  2. peanutflower
    March 22, 2013

    Pfft. what more could we expect anyway. my only consolation is posting rude remarks about Mike Diveboy Smith on my FB account to try and piss off my Phoenix in-law relatives. it’s not much of a consolation.

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  3. ikillchicken
    March 22, 2013

    Agreed. It is simply baffling. If he believed that there was an intent to this then I could see where he was coming from. I wouldn’t agree. But I could see his reasoning. I also can totally accept that this was a penalty. I mean, even if Smith was trying to block him, Edler could have avoided the collision by stopping. Is that unfair? Sure. But if that’s the rule, that’s the rule. But if he accepts that there was no intent, where does the suspension come from? Is a penalty for charging the goalie (regardless of intent) an automatic suspension now? Because it sure wasn’t last year for Lucic. He got off because, according to Shanny: “The minor penalty called on the ice was the correct call, and, while it’s unfortunate that Miller was hurt, I saw nothing egregious about this hit that would elevate it to supplemental discipline.” Both hits were penalties…but Edler’s was somehow more egregious? Why? Evidently not because of intent. Not because of injury either. So what?

    You know, I applauded Shanny initially for bringing much needed transparency to these proceedings with his detailed explanations and videos and in a sense, that is still a good thing. But at this point it really only serves to further highlight how completely arbitrary his rulings are.

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    • Andre
      March 23, 2013

      To be honest, the only intent I see is from Mike Smith to block Edler’s path and prevent him from getting the puck, thereby risking the ensuing collision. I suspect he knew that the consequences for the Canucks would be greater than for himself and his team.

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  4. akidd
    March 22, 2013

    sorry am gonna cut and past. just posted on the preceding article.

    “I can’t say i blame edler. my instinct, as an observer playing the game in my head as i watch, was the same as his. get the puck. it was a powerplay and all players were in the zone. my instinct was to treat smith as a skater. now obviously i didn’t know the rule here and i’m sure edler does as that’s part of being a professional but it just seemed like mike smith was playing the puck like a skater and should be treated as such, not in the legal sense but in a kind of unspoken hockey morality sense.

    did edler try to hit smith? yup. but it seems like a strange rule when a goalie can just skate out of his net to the puck at any time(that was a pass behind the net on a pp?!?), put his back to the play and if there’s any contact the skater gets a penalty. let alone a major. let alone a suspension.

    if anything mike smith deserves his own rule on that one: “if a goalie loses his mind and skates into play after the puck, he’s fair game.”

    i’m all for protecting goalies but smith was pushing it.”

    said I, five minutes ago.

    pretty strange shannaban. it’s a good thing the nhl is cracking down on the edlers and hansens in this league so we can all sleep safely in our beds at night. did shanny make the announcement while eating a bowl of cocopuffs? cause if he did then…it would be almost forgivable and kinda funny. probably worth the suspension even. but he probably didn’t which means there is very little consolation indeed to this decision.

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  5. Brent
    March 22, 2013

    Big *sigh*

    It was going to be tough enough playing LA after beating them last game. You know Kopitar is going to have seen that GIF and will be totally focused, along with everyone else. With all the injuries, and now this, we are going to be in tough tomorrow. I assume Lou will get the start, so maybe Schnieds can suit up for defence. He will certainly have a interesting perspective on how to play the position.

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  6. Interior fan
    March 22, 2013

    Mind boggling but, at the same time, not surprising. The level of inconsistency of these rulings never ceases to amaze me.

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  7. best behaviour
    March 22, 2013

    Harrison, you may be right that we shouldn’t compare the two plays, but we can compare the reasoning (not the right word to use here) that the league gives. In the “explanatory” video for why Nash isn’t suspended, they say that the other player “turned before he was hit”. Smith did the same – except he didn’t turn his back, he turned to take up more space.

    They do need to protect goalies, but that isn’t what they’re doing – they don’t seem to protect goalies *in front of the crease* who are playing the Bruins, and besides, this was the NHL’s chance to say “seriously, dude, get out of the way”.

    It looks a bit dodgy to me that the NHL looks at the change of position in one case but not the other. I know this is the site for the thinking fan who doesn’t shout “bias” at every decision that goes against the Canucks, but given this league’s history and culture, and the *pattern* of calls against our guys, thinking fans should start asking for better, more unbiassed off-ice officiating, instead of this stacking the deck under pretense of “player safety” (safety for the right players). After the unnecessary lockout, you’d think they would take better care with fan goodwill. Now I’m starting to remember all the things that I was not missing about hockey during the lockout.

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    • best behaviour
      March 22, 2013

      But it is kind of funny – I think everyone at Canucks headquarters was so enraged and distraught, that to be the banner for Gillis’ “I’m so restrained I’ve broken three teeth with grinding this evening” statement, they picked the first random picture they could find with Edler. It inexplicably has the captain of the Oilers in it…

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  8. pt21
    March 22, 2013

    And might I add, B.S., he didn’t suffer an injury on that play, he suffered an injury when Mike Stone belted Daniel Sedin from behind into him.

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  9. Timmy Wong (@timmywong11)
    March 22, 2013

    Again (just like in the Hansen case), the problem here on out is there Edler’s now a repeat offender as per the DDoS. Any supplemental discipline will be elevated because of a bonehead decision that Shanahan, Blake, the Wheel of Justice, et al made.

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    • best behaviour
      March 22, 2013

      I agree – I was just thinking I’m going to stop referring to any players as repeat offenders. You can say you’ve seen them in plays with intent to injure, or careless plays they should have known could result in injury – but to say the NHL decided to suspend them over a hit is now officially meaningless to me.

      You can tell it gets to the players, too – that was a big part of Hansen’s comment after his suspension, that he’s now got a “record.”

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    • Timmy Wong (@timmywong11)
      March 23, 2013

      Also, I don’t know why I wrote DDoS as opposed to DoPS (Dept of Player Safety). In light of today’s ruling, I’ll also accept DoBS.

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  10. steveB
    March 22, 2013

    “Expect the worst
    and the NHL will seldom disappoint you.”
    :-\

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  11. Lucky
    March 22, 2013

    I..just..what?! 2 games?!

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  12. Zach Morris
    March 22, 2013

    No, but seriously, what’s the REAL ruling?



    You mean…

    Man, I don’t even know anymore.

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  13. Tom 1040
    March 22, 2013

    Ah, whatever.

    It is not that bad things occur that matters, it is how these bad things are met.

    Canucks need some kind of rallying point, perhaps all these injuries and/or this suspension will be it, so look at the positive.

    And, oooooh that David Booth makes me angry. (he he heeee….)

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  14. BakerGeorgeT
    March 22, 2013

    This os worse tha the Aaron Rome suspension. To wit, if you are a major market NHL team we will do anything to minimize the responsibilities of your action because we are a league with no backbone. Should you play for a Canadian or small market NHL team we shall enact a pox on your house so ill you will complain in vain. No where are our billions of dollars?

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  15. Amor de Cosmos
    March 22, 2013

    Call me paranoid (OK, open goal) but I think, like the Hansen suspension and others before it, this ruling has been spelled out, just never spoken out loud. It goes A-U-G-E-R.

    The NHL neither forgives nor forgets.

    Fortunately neither do Canucks fans.

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  16. Doop
    March 22, 2013

    All of this happened, more or less.

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  17. zolltan
    March 22, 2013

    Was gonna come here and say, look, I know it’s stupid, but let’s not get batshit paranoid. But no one is getting all that batshit paranoid. Am disappointed my concern trolling is of no use.

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  18. Nick
    March 22, 2013

    What other professional sports league has on-ice officiating that varies so much depending on the whether the teams involved are disliked by the referees, whether the play is early versus late in a game, whether it’s a regular season or playoffs, whether there’s an imbalance in penalties called against one team that must be evened up, and whether the referees are somewhat competent or really quite the opposite?

    And what professional sports league office when considering suspensions; somewhat randomly hands out heavy, light, or no punishment at all … and often the latter seems to depend on outside influences?

    I’ll bet no one inside or outside the sport, if they’re being honest, really understands what is going on with this inconsistency.

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    • chicken chick
      March 22, 2013

      “If it were not for injustice, men would not know justice.”

      Mayhap this thought from Heraclitus
      Could just serve to reunite us
      It’s we against the NHL
      For this does any doubt dispel
      That only we are treated thus

      To injure there was no intent
      In fact it seemed that Edler meant
      To slip between the boards and Smith
      And get the puck and pass forthwith
      This ruling’s one that I lament

      Lucic got nothing for his hit
      More egregious I submit
      Than Edler’s inauspicious act
      Revealing how the cards are stacked
      And that Vancouver pays for it

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    • zolltan
      March 22, 2013

      Well, few other professional leagues have on-ice officiating of any kind. But I think basically any soccer league is as bad or worse for all these criteria.

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    • shoes
      March 22, 2013

      Let me ask a couple more questions.

      What other professional sports leagues have a little dwarf rat running the show that owns one of the teams in the league?

      What other professional sports leagues have a boss of the officials AND that same boss has a boy in the league that directly has benefited and continues to benefit from rule changes and inconsistent discipline?

      What other professional sports leagues are rapidly changing to a scripted reality TV show with some of teams more likely to succeed because it “makes more money for all”

      This ruling as was the Hansen ruling is designed to take Canucks out of the lineup when and if it is ever needed. Nash will be a first time offender for his whole career as will Lucic and many others that attend Bettmans soirees in the long hot summer evenings.

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  19. shoes
    March 22, 2013

    Or maybe Rob Blake thought he would give his old team a leg up tomorrow night.

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  20. anotherrob
    March 22, 2013

    Well heck. You all took the wind out of my sails. I didn’t even agree with the five minute penalty on the play. What a sorry excuse for a professional sports league
    .

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  21. Dave Robinson (@dcrwrites)
    March 23, 2013

    I’ve said it elsewhere, but the majority of the press and fandom will always be wrong on these calls because they base their opinions on what actually occurs on the ice, unlike the NHL. There are always other factors in play which outweigh the circumstances of the event.

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    • anotherrob
      March 23, 2013

      You’re probably right, but I also get peed off with the repetition of the big lie. I just heard someone on 1040 say that Edler got two games for his headshot, and I read in two places in the Province yesterday that he left his feet. Say it as if it’s true. Kind of a Michelle Bachmann thing.

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  22. J21 (@Jyrki21)
    March 23, 2013

    Edler: two games for playing for the wrong team.

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