Last March, Alex Edler earned his first suspension from Brendan Shanahan’s Department of Player Safety after a collision with Mike Smith. It was a Shanaban we didn’t agree with, especially since Smith is basically the opossum of goaltenders — it’s usually mostly his own fault when he gets run over. But the DOPS saw it differently, banning Edler for three games and making the Swedish blueliner a repeat offender under the CBA in the process. You had to figure that was going to come back to bite him, and Friday afternoon, it did.
With the Canucks playing host to Tomas Hertl and the San Jose Sharks Thursday night, Edler and Hertl came together during a puck race in the neutral zone. Hertl was reaching, no doubt feeling invincible after his four-goal game, and in a sense, you have to wonder if he is: he somehow suffered no injury or ill effects from the resulting headshot.
Edler did, though. Factoring his repeat offender status into the play, the Department of Player Safety has decided to suspend him for three games. Here’s Shanahan with the explanation:
I hate disagreeing with anything on Canuck suspensions since it makes me look like little more than an angry, biased fan, but I find myself wondering what in the heck else Edler was supposed to do here. Shanahan wants him to take a better line to Hertl, but he pretty much just skates in a straight one, and Hertl goes right into his shoulder.
As Greg Wyshynski notes, “Hertl’s approach to the puck – crouched down, stick out, skating right into Edler’s path – put him in a prone position. No, he doesn’t move his head as Edler makes contact; he didn’t need to, having already skated into a collision with his head at Edler’s rib cage.”
There’s head contact, to be certain, but how responsible is Edler for it, really? I’d say not all that much.
That said, inadvertently or not, Edler picked the head. When you’re trying to give volume and shape to your sweet, sweet afro, picking the head is the way to go. In an on-ice collision, picking the head is a no-no. And when you don’t play the puck in doing so, the dude’s helmet pops off, he spins around, and you’re already a repeat offender, yeah, you’re gonna get suspended.
But, even more than the collision with Mike Smith, one wonders if the NHL was thinking of a different past incident entirely. Wyshynski points to this eerily identical collision with Kyle Clifford in 2010:
Pretty: those Kings’ throwbacks. Unpretty: that hit. Edler got a penalty for it, although no suspension, since it happened prior to the regime change in the league disciplinarian’s office and the newfound focus on rule 48.
And here’s another pertinent hit, from 2011, with our old pal Taylor Hall:
This one isn’t quite on par with the Clifford and Hertl hits, but it’s similar. Edler and Hall are racing for a puck, he goes for the reverse hit, and winds up picking the head on the collision.
“Edler is notorious for this type of play”, he writes.
That in mind, consider this suspension more than just a reaction to this specific hit. It’s also a message to Edler, in a sense. I don’t love the suspension, but Edler’s fortunate none of these hits have seriously injured anybody. No doubt the NHL would like him to change the way he makes contact on these plays before his luck runs out.
Amazing to think that Alex Edler, the soft-spoken, sleepy defenceman, has been suspended three times for a total of 10 games — including the four international games for his knee-on-knee on Eric Staal — in the last 6 months. He’s like the dog from Pet Sematary 2 all of a sudden.Tags: alex edler, shanabans, suspension