First came the accolades, now comes the backlash. Brendan Shanahan was widely praised for his strict sentencing in the preseason in an attempt to get players to cut down on the head shots. He also knew it wouldn't last. He knew there would be a controversial hit that would lead to criticism. He knew not every general manager would agree with his decisions on justice.
It didn't take long for that to happen. Right about the time James Wisniewski was suspended for 10 games and fined half a million dollars, the doubters started to surface.
"Columbus got shafted," one NHL source said after the Wisniewski suspension. "There's more to come."
This weekend, Minnesota's Pierre-Marc Bouchard was suspended for two games for high-sticking Matt Calvert in the face. Bouchard doesn't have a reputation as a dirty player, and he missed 110 games with a concussion as a result of a head shot. In a statement condemning the suspension, Bouchard's outspoken agent, Allan Walsh, also pointed out that Bouchard has just two major penalties in nine seasons.
"There is no one who supports ridding the game of headshots, blindside hits and dangerous hits from behind more than Pierre-Marc," Walsh wrote in a statement given to ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun and others. "What occurred on the play in question last night was none of the above. The notion that Pierre-Marc Bouchard intentionally swung his stick into the face of an opponent is patently absurd. He's just not that kind of player."
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