The Bruins and Canadiens skated Monday for the fourth time this season, an occasion always marked by unpleasant exchanges, assumedly about regarding the battle for beer supremacy between Sam Adams and Molson. Or something.
The rivalry wasn’t the pregame story that had media folk packed like sardines in the TD Garden’s cramped quarters. Instead, the buzz most of Monday was the suspension handed to Milan Lucic by Brendan Shanahan for his hit on the Flyers’ Zac Rinaldo on Saturday.
Lucic was handed a one-game suspension for hitting Rinaldo from behind after a hearing with Shanahan Monday morning.
Lucic and Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli spoke to the media prior to Monday’s game about the suspension, and Chiarelli in particular didn’t mince his words.
“I don’t think that was a suspendable offense,” Chiarelli said.
Lucic divulged some details on his meeting with Shanahan, noting he wasn’t thrilled with the punishment czar’s ruling, either.
“He asked me what I was thinking at the time and about the hit,” Lucic said. “I told him exactly what I said after the game. I did everything I could to try to get his shoulder and try to make it not from behind. I said even after the game, you can see his legs and his body turning as he was going into the boards.”
Chiarelli noted that Lucic now has a history of offenses at least brought before the league for review. He mentioned the one-game suspension given to Lucic in 2009 for cross-checking Maxim Lapierre, a fine earned for hitting Freddy Meyer, and the warning issued for his collision with Ryan Miller earlier this year.
Chiarelli said he thought Shanahan made the decision chiefly because of those past incidents and the reputation Lucic has as a physical player. Though Shanahan didn’t say so, Chiarelli estimated that, on its own, the hit on Rinaldo would not have ended in a suspension.
“What was explained to me was that when there have been incidents before with a player, they look at the whole body of work,” Chiarelli said. “I don’t know if it’s as strong as being a repeat offender, but he’s done stuff in the past, according to hockey ops, that go to his character reference when they’re looking at putting up punishment.”
Despite their disagreement with today’s ruling, both Lucic and Chiarelli praised Shanahan’s handling of the matter and his efforts to help make the NHL a safer league.
“I think it’s good that it’s in the back of players’ minds now, that the NHL isn’t a place to just be running around recklessly anymore,” Lucic said. “I think that’s a good thing. It’s good to see that they’re aware to keep the game safer and to try to take head injuries ultimately out of the game.”