Sabreland patiently awaited word from the NHL’s hearing about Jordin Tootoo’s charging penalty against Ryan Miller on Saturday night in Nashville. The league took it’s time with this one, announcing this afternoon that Tootoo will be suspended for the next two games without pay.
Since WordPress won’t allow me to post Shanahan’s explanation, here is a statement handed down from the league office:
Nashville Predators forward Jordin Tootoo has been suspended, without pay, for two games for charging Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller during NHL Game #379 Saturday night, Dec. 3, in Nashville, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.
Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and based on his average annual salary, Tootoo will forfeit $13,513.52. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
The incident occurred at 15:54 of the second period. Tootoo was assessed a major penalty for charging and game misconduct on the play.
Tootoo will miss games tonight vs. Phoenix and Dec. 8 at Columbus. He will be eligible to return Dec. 10 vs. Anaheim.
In Shanahan’s explanation, Tootoo is driving to the net with the puck, but loses it before he is able to make a play. Tootoo had enough time to avoid Miller even though Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff was making body contact with Tootoo. Another thing Shanahan nitpicks about is the fact that Tootoo jumped into Miller. While Shanahan understands the claim that Tootoo jumped to avoid contact, it actually made the play more dangerous, resulting in contact with Miller’s head. As you can see:
The result of the play was a massive scrum by the net, which included Paul Gaustad involving his fists, as well as Miller taking matters into his own hands, throwing blockers at Tootoo’s face. Furthermore, Tootoo was penalized with a five minute major for charging.
First of all, that’s already a lot more than what Milan Lucic got for running Miller outside of his crease. Lucic, if you remember, was given two minutes for that particular incident. The call on the ice was suitable for what Tootoo did. He was also ejected from the game.
When word came from the NHL yesterday that Tootoo was going to have a phone hearing with Shanahan, many were worried that the league might not come down on Tootoo at all, as the maximum suspension Tootoo could have gotten from a phone hearing is just five games.
Tootoo was given two games, though, and that seems good enough. Frankly, we shouldn’t even compare this to the Lucic incident, which was completely different from the way Tootoo ran the net.
In Lucic’s case, Miller went to make a play on a loose puck out of his crease, standing upright. Miller wasn’t “fair game” in this case, but he certainly put himself in a position to get severely hurt, which is what ended up happening, as Miller suffered a concussion from this play. While Miller was in a position in which he could get hurt, though, Lucic had plenty of time to steer clear of any sort of accident. The league really screwed that call up.
In this case, Tootoo was driving with the puck to the net, with Miller in his crease making sure the puck stays out. Tootoo loses the puck, yet still keeps barreling into Miller. Unfortunately for Tootoo, his trying to avoid hitting the goalie by jumping only made matters worse. Hitting the goalie like that, whether a player meant it or not, is a big no-no.
While Tootoo is what many fans are considering a “repeat offender”, keep in mind that Tootoo has been in the league eight years, and the last time he was suspended was when he sucker punched Stephan Robidas of the Dallas Stars almost four years ago. For reference:
Yeah, that was pretty blatant. The charging call on Miller didn’t seem as blatant. If anything, Sabres fans should be more appalled that Lucic got nothing for a more vicious hit on Miller than Tootoo did on a routine drive to the net. It looked more like Tootoo was trying to avoid the contact by jumping over Ryan Miller rather than just barrel into him. Not every player can think like Ryan Kesler and just jump on top of the net:
It’s basically the exact same thing. Kesler just made a much better choice and tried hopping over the net instead, while still making contact with the goalie.
Frankly, two games is enough for this incident, considering Tootoo was given a major penalty and was ejected from the game. There was no way this would get anything more than that. Again, it was a routine drive to the net in which Tootoo lost control of the puck, and himself. Nothing more. Jumping into Miller doesn’t seem like the best call to make, but perhaps Tootoo was a great long-jumper back in high school and thought he might try to put that to good use. Better luck next time, bud.
Honestly, there is no reason to believe that it’s going to be open-season on goalies from this point forward. How many other incidents have we had this year where the goalie was completely run over and nothing was done about it? Just that one from Boston game? Miller is the only goalie that has been viciously hit, and now that it’s happened twice, it obviously leads to the conclusion that Lindy Ruff was right, that it truly is going to be open-season on goalies. However, in reality, this seems to be a huge coincidence that just happened to involve the same goalie twice in a row, and the likelihood of it happening again seems fairly slim.