Last night, Panthers defenseman Colby Robak pushed Tim Sestito from behind and sent Sestito careening into the boards. I wrote immediately after the game that I'd be shocked if Robak didn't land some sort of NHL suspension. Well, consider me shocked:
You have got to be eff'ing kidding me. I get that NHL disciplinary decisions make no sense at times. I even understand that Brendan Shanahan has a much stronger grasp on the NHL rule book than I do. What I don't understand is how that hit was NOT worthy of a suspension. So what if he's farther away from the boards than Brad Richards was? That was a clear example of the kind of hit that Shanahan and Gary Bettman tell me they're trying to get out of the game. Yet, here we stand, with Robak going unpunished despite shoving Sestito from behind into the wall. Thankfully, Sestito is fine or will be fine, according to coach Pete DeBoer.
Would the decision have been different if Sestito weren't "fine?" If maybe he didn't get up off the ice and skate off under his own power? The NHL says that injuries or after-effects from the hits don't play into the disciplinary process, but I'm finding that harder to believe in recent days. The only thiing I can think of is that Robak has no disciplinary pass and largely because of that Shanahan considered the on-ice punishment (5-minute major, 10-minute misconduct) sufficient. That doesn't mean it makes sense. I've spent a lot of time defending Shanahan and the NHL's disciplinary process in the past, but this decision here is thoroughly perplexing and I can't find any way to defend it.