Dallas Stars: Brendan Shanahan

DALLAS -- Dallas Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said right after Tuesday’s game that he thought Shane Doan’s hit on Jamie Benn was a “suspendable offense.” Wednesday night, the league suspended Doan three games for elbowing Benn.

This morning, Gulutzan was asked for his reaction to the suspension.

“I think the league has done a good job -- where it’s us or not -- of certainly making it clear what is a suspension and what is not,” Gulutzan said. “We just had a meeting about three weeks ago with Shanny (NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan) and that’s what it was about, the rules and the clarity. From what they spelled out, I said it was a suspension. You can’t target the head on a hit, and that’s what it was.”

As for the three games, Gulutzan quipped he wouldn’t have minded more games since the Stars are battling the Coyotes for the Pacific Division title and a playoff spot, but he said the length of the suspension was reasonable.

“Of course we’d like more, we’re fighting with Phoenix and he’s a real good player. He’s a pretty honest guy and he’s been in the league a long time,” Gulutzan said. “I think three is probably the way to go.”
The NHL has suspended Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan three games for elbowing Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn in Tuesday night’s 4-3 shootout win by the Stars.

“While we accept Doan’s assertion that the action was not intentional, we feel that Doan’s extended elbow in that situation was reckless and made him responsible for the dangerous head contact that resulted,” the NHL’s Brendan Shanahan said in announcing the suspension. “It is important to note that Doan is a repeat offender, having been suspended for three games 17 months ago for an illegal check to the head. We have also taken into consideration that Doan was fined just five days ago for a dangerous boarding incident.”

The hit took place in the second period, just after the Stars had taken a 2-1 lead in the game on a power play goal by Michael Ryder. After Benn chipped the puck past Doan in the Dallas zone, Doan stuck out his elbow and caught Benn in the head.

“He got me pretty good,” Benn said Wednesday morning.

Benn, who took two big hits in the game including the elbow from Doan, said he was OK and would play Thursday against the Canucks.

"Feeling fine, normal," Benn said.

The Dallas forward was asked if he was disappointed with the hit, and took the diplomatic route.

"No, it's hockey. It's so fast out there, things happen," Benn said. "I'll let the league deal with it.

“Hockey is a rough sport. Bodies are flying, elbows are flying. Guys are trying to crack down on it now. Players are doing a lot better at taking responsibility for their hits. It was just a play that happened fast and it is what it is.”

Benn was also nailed hard by Phoenix forward Antoine Vermette in overtime and left the game briefly. He returned to take part in the shootout. Benn admitted he might have been a target for the Coyotes on Tuesday night.

“Everyone is looking to get into the playoffs and they are keying on guys to shut them down,” he said. “I had an ‘X’ on my back last night, but I’ll take that if they are going to leave our top line alone. They stepped up and played a good game.”

Doan, who will forfeit $166,463.40 in salary, will be eligible to return for the March 29 game versus the San Jose Sharks.

Shanahan video explanation

Here's the video explanation of the Shane Doan suspension from the NHL's Brendan Shanahan.

Mark Fistric suspended 3 games

December, 7, 2011
The NHL Wednesday suspended Stars defenseman Mark Fistric three games for his hit on New York Islanders forward Nino Niederreiter in Saturday's game at American Airlines Center.

NHL Senior VP of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan said the hit was a violation of rule 42.1 (charging) and resulted in an injury to Niederreiter, who is out with a concussion.

"We'll live by the suspension," said Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. "I think it's a very difficult job that Brendan Shanahan does and I respect the job that he is doing. We'll live with it."

The suspension will cost Fistric $16,216.23, which goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Here's the video explanation from Shanahan.

Positive signs on injury front

December, 5, 2011
FARMERS BRANCH -- It was an encouraging site as the Dallas Stars hit the ice for practice at the Dr. Pepper StarCenter in Farmers Branch Monday morning. Three of the team’s five injured players – Brenden Morrow, Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski – were on the ice.

Morrow and Daley are expected to return when the Stars open their five-game road trip in San Jose on Thursday. Goligoski is getting close and could return during the trip.

“Dales will be a player for us come Thursday, so will [Morrow],” Gulutzan said. “That will be two guys back in our lineup for sure. Goose is very close, too, with his playing cast. We're getting there.”

Morrow has missed the last six games with a back issue, and hasn’t played since the November 21 game against Edmonton.

“I felt good. Hands were not where I would like them, so I need a couple more good skates before San Jose on Thursday,” Morrow said. “The body felt pretty good today. I just need to get the timing back, but Thursday is looking pretty good.”

Along with the back injury, Morrow has had issues with a knee and an elbow. He’s gotten off to a slow start this season, but he didn’t want to use the injuries as an excuse.

“I was struggling for sure. I expect to be a better player, but whether that (the injury situation) is an excuse or not, I don’t know,” Morrow said. “I’m better than I’ve played and I expect to be better now. I am not saying that was the only reason, but I was not comfortable every game.”

Daley left the November 26 game at Phoenix in the first period with a back injury and has missed three full games since.

“It was a pinch and it went numb. It was more a caution than anything,” Daley said. “Once we got the picture and knew what it was, it was just a matter of time. I am ready to get back.”

Daley, who played all 82 games last season, said the game is a lot easier watching from the press box. It’s too easy, and that’s why he is anxious to get back.

“It’s a lot easier upstairs. When you slow it down and get to watch it from up top, it’s a heck of a lot easier,” he said. “I am ready to get back down. It’s too easy up there.”

Goligoski broke his thumb in the November 11 game at Pittsburgh and has missed 11 games. He’s been skating with assistant coach Paul Jerrard recently and Monday was his first practice since the injury.

“It was good,” Goligoski said. “It felt good to get out there with the guys, do some drills with the puck and throw passes and receive passes. Speed stuff, it was good.”

Exactly when he’ll return is still up in the air.

“I am waiting for a special brace, so I won’t know for sure until that gets in. With the brace I have now, it feels pretty good, better than I even expected,” Goligoski said. “We’ll see how it goes the next couple days, really don’t have to make a decision now.

“It’s listening to my body, the pain management and not overdoing it because you hear horror stories about that. You want to be careful with it.”

Fistric hearing on Tuesday

Stars defenseman Mark Fistric has a disciplinary hearing with the NHL Tuesday afternoon for his hit on New York Islanders forward Nino Niederreiter in Saturday’s game. His hearing with the NHL’s Brendan Shanahan will be done by phone.

Fistric’s hit left Niederreiter with a concussion.

"He had his head down and it's unfortunate that he was injured. You never want to see that," Fistric said. "It's the game of hockey, it's physical and it's contact. It's up to Shanahan."

Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said the issue could come down to whether Shanahan decides that Fistric left his feet to make the hit.

"I thought it was a good face up hit. I think there is going to be an issue there with the league, I'm sure, about the feet," Gulutzan said. "I can sit here and say that they didn't leave the ground, but the replay is going to show that they did. But there was no intent on Fisty's part. He's a hard hitting guy and it was face up. Sometimes with these hits, when they are bracing themselves to make the hit, your momentum is moving upward. That's how you hit whatever sport you're in - you bend your knees and you drive your legs. He got off the ground, so that will be up to the league to decide."

Mark Fistric's big hit

December, 4, 2011
Stars defenseman Mark Fistric rocked Islanders forward Nino Niederreiter with a hard hit early in the game. Niederreiter didn’t return due to concussion-like symptoms. There was no penalty call on the play, which didn’t seem to faze Islanders coach Jack Capuano.

“No, they’ve got a tough job to do,” Capuano said when asked if we upset if there was no call. “I don’t know if he left his feet or if he didn’t. It’s a hit. It’s part of the game and for the NHL officials to decide.”

The Islanders' broadcast thought it should of been a penalty and poking around some message boards, Islanders fans feel the same way and are talking suspension, too. I'm sure Stars fans will see it another way.

The hit reminded me of the one Toronto’s Luke Schenn put on Stars forward Tomas Vincour recently. People saw that one differently as well.

I didn't think Schenn's was worth a suspension and I don't think Fistric's is either. To me these were both full body hits that resulted in contact with the head. Last time I checked those were still legal in the NHL.

But the final say will go to the NHL's Brendan Shanahan.

Here are the videos of the two hits.

NHL realignment will not happen this coming season, but it will come in 2012-13 and it may involve a more balanced schedule. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman hinted at the schedule adjustment while addressing the media prior to the opening of the Stanley Cup Final in Vancouver Wednesday.

Bettman said that while realignment will be coming now that the Atlanta Thrashers are moving to Winnipeg, there’s not enough time to give it proper treatment prior to the 2011-12 season. As a result, Winnipeg will play in the Southeast Division for one season as the league sorts through the realignment issue.

Several teams will be looking to take advantage of realignment, including the Stars who could benefit from moving out of the Pacific Division and into a more time friendly and travel friendly division such as the Central.

“We have a number of clubs that would like to address specific issues on realignment. All those clubs need an opportunity to be heard,” said Bettman. “That's a process we'll go through the first half of next season, looking at the issues that clubs want to raise, looking at various possibilities, and trying to figure out what will make the most sense moving forward.

“If I had to guess anything, and this is purely speculation, as much as I hate to do that, because ultimately it's a Board decision, I think we'll wind up moving towards a slightly more balanced schedule to accommodate the variety of issues I've heard so far from the clubs.”

What that more balanced schedule will entail isn’t clear, but it could include more inter-conference games to ensure that each team plays in every NHL building during the season.

A few other notes:

*Bettman announced that he is creating a new department of player safety that will be headed by Brendan Shanahan, who also will be in charge of supplemental discipline next season. He will be taking over for Colin Campbell, who has stepped down from handling discipline but will his retain his position in the Hockey Operations department.

“First, I know this is one aspect of Colie's job that he hates. It could be the most thankless and worst job in hockey, particularly after enduring it for more than a decade,” said Bettman. “Two, both Colin and I believe that it is time to take a fresh look at the standards that we use, and if we're going to move to harsher discipline, that change needs to send a clear message, and we think it would probably be best to do it on a clean slate. Having Brendan, who only recently came off the ice after a wonderful career, will give us the adjustment and the focus and the credibility that this change will bring about.”

*NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said next season’ salary cap is expected to top $60 million and could go as high as $63.5 million.

*The Florida Panthers became the first of the teams looking for a new head coach to fill the vacancy, announcing today that they have hired Kevin Dineen. He takes over for Peter DeBoer, who has fired after three seasons behind the Florida bench. Dineen has the spent the last six seasons as the head coach of the Portland Pirates of the AHL.

Tom Wandell's versatility a plus for Stars

March, 15, 2011
FRISCO -- Tom Wandell has had some ups and downs this season, but he’s been on a nice run for the Stars lately thanks to shaking off some injuries, more ice time and paying attention to some friendly advice.

“I feel a little bit more comfortable out there for sure,” Wandell said about his recent play following Monday’s practice in Frisco.

Getting to that comfort level has taken some time for the 24-year-old, who is in his second NHL season. He came into training camp after a summer of rehabbing an ACL injury that required surgery and forced him to miss the last half of last season. On the second day of training camp in Prince Edward Island he suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out the entire preseason. Then in January there was another shoulder injury that kept him out a couple weeks.

Now, Wandell seems to be hitting his stride and has been a key contributor during the Stars’ recent run. He said getting over the injuries was one part of the equation.

“I’m getting more ice time and more opportunity,” Wandell said. “I am the kind of guy that wants the puck a lot, I’m getting the puck more and I feel a lot better out there.”

Among the opportunities recently has been some time on the Stars’ top line with Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson.

“Two of the best of the best players in the league,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for me.”

Stars coach Marc Crawford said Wandell’s versatility; his ability to move up and down the lineup is something the Stars can take advantage of with the Swedish forward’s recent play.

“I’ve liked the play of Tom Wandell. He’s show some versatility to play up the wing with Richards and Eriksson. We’ve called upon that and he’s shown some offensive flair in that department,” Crawford said. “I like it when we can play a speed line of [Toby] Petersen, [Jason] Williams and him. That gives us a pretty good option. He’s showed he’s well versed if we put him on a line with [Steve] Ott and [Tomas] Vincour or [Jamie] Langenbrunner. His ability to play both wings, his ability to check and to create some offense has enhanced lately and shown itself to better.

“I think the best part of his game is he has been stronger with the puck, he’s been a little more protective of the puck and consequently he’s been able to skate himself out of trouble on a couple occasions. That’s been a difference maker.”

Wandell’s made a difference on the scoring front as well, potting three goals during the Stars’ recent eight-game points streak. He’s been shooting the puck more, something he said his family and friends have been prodding him to do.

“I think before I was looking for passes way, way too much. Why not shoot it? You can’t score if you don’t shoot,” Wandell said. “I just decided to shoot more. My dad says all the time that I should shoot more and friends say I can’t score if I don’t shoot. I’ve tried to throw puck in there a little bit more and a few have bounced in.”

Stars look for stronger starts

The Stars are 1-1-1 in the first three games of their seven-game homestand and both times they’ve fallen short of two points they’ve fallen behind early in games.

Calgary jumped to a 3-0 first period lead before the Stars rallied to tie and the Flames won in a shootout. The Kings scored an early power play goal to take a lead and then extended it to 2-0 in the second period before the Stars rallied to tie and the Kings finally won it with a late goal in regulation.

The Stars would like to get off to better starts as the homestand continues Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks.

“We like to get out, especially here at home, push teams around and get out to early leads,” said captain Brenden Morrow. “[Slow starts] are not a recipe for success in the long run, but we’re kind of getting by with it right now.”

The Stars are best team in the league when they score first, posting a 28-3-2 record. They rank 24th in the league with a 9-21-6 record when surrendering the first goal.

“We’d like to be a team that has them chase us,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “You’re so much better statistically if you score first, if you have a good start to the game.”

Burish out Tuesday

Stars forward Adam Burish will miss his second straight game due to a lower body injury, Stars coach Marc Crawford said after the team’s practice in Frisco on Monday.

“We're going to watch him progress here day by day and hopefully he continues to improve,” said Crawford. “He blocked a shot some time back and he's had some pain with it. Anybody that's watched us can see that it has affected his skating. We've made the decision to shut him down for a bit to see if that's going to make an improvement on it. As soon as he gets that improvement we all know that he'll be back in the lineup.”

Nieuwendyk on player safety committee

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has named Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk to a committee of former players to work on issues related to player safety. Also on the committee are Brendan Shanahan, Steve Yzerman and Rob Blake.

“If there's a common thread among those four people, it is one in addition to being either senior or club officials, they're all Hall of Fame eligible players, quality players who have played the game in the rules coming back from the work stoppage, and I think it's important to have them involved on an ongoing basis,” Bettman said.

That committee was among five steps on player safety that Bettman outlined Monday at the GM meetings in Boca Raton, Florida. The other steps included reducing equipment size without reducing its protectiveness, revising the NHL protocol for concussions, holding teams and coaches accountable for repeat offenders with regard to supplemental discipline, and looking at ways to make rinks safer.

NHL to put new ideas to the test this week

August, 16, 2010
More than 30 of the top prospects for next year’s NHL Draft will be on the ice in suburban Toronto this week for a camp where they’ll get to make an impression on NHL teams, and they’ll be lab rats as well.

The 2010 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp will be held Wednesday and Thursday at the Toronto Maple Leafs practice facility. The main focus of the camp is to test some potential rule changes and other ideas that could enhance the game.

Veteran coaches Ken Hitchcock and Dave King will be directing the prospects on the ice. A lot of league officials will be watching, including NHL Vice President of Hockey and Business Development Brendan Shanahan.

"I think everyone involved with the NHL thinks that our game is in really good shape," Shanahan told NHL.com. "I think that this is just a way of being progressive and keeping ourselves well informed of not just the fact that things work but why they work. Most companies or industries have research and development and that's exactly what this is: it's studying our own product."

None of these ideas is expected to be implemented this season, and who knows if any will ever see the light of day. If some do they may end up being variations of what’s done at this camp. That’s why you experiment. See how it looks and go from there. Give the league credit for being open to ideas.

Some of the ideas already exist elsewhere. No touch icing will be among the ideas tested. Others have been floating around for a while. Not being allowed to ice the puck when shorthanded will get a look.

There will be variations of rules already in place. There are no line changes now for a team that ices the puck. In this camp the league will test no line changes for a team that goes offside and the faceoff will be moved into the zone of the offending team.

Overtime will get at a lot of attention. In one scenario the league will examine three minutes of 4-on-4, three minutes of 3-on-3 and then three minutes of 2-on-2. That will be followed by a five-man shootout.

The league will use that same overtime scenario, but have teams change ends of the rink to get the long line change like the second period of regulation. The hope is that the long line change will create more mistakes and more opportunities. That will be followed with a shootout that has three players. If the shootout is tied after three shots then players who have already shot can shoot again.

There also will be a 4-on-4 overtime with the long line change followed by a five-man shootout.

Faceoffs will get some attention too. The goal is to cut down on cheating. In one scenario the puck will no longer be dropped. Instead, it will be placed on the ice and players will battle for it on the sound of the whistle.

In another test the puck will be dropped for the faceoff, but if there is a violation the non-offending center can pick his new opponent in the faceoff circle. I don’t think the opposing goalie is an option, but a defenseman would be.

Another test with faceoffs entails moving the dots in the attacking zones to the middle of the ice, leading to draws in the slots.

Again, they are just ideas to be evaluated. It can’t hurt to try and some may actually turn out to be good ideas and better the game.

The league’s official site is promising extensive coverage of the camp and there will be coverage on the NHL Network, which will provide a recap on both Wednesday and Thursday nights. According to NHL Network's online listings it’s scheduled for 9:30 pm Central Time on both nights.

For a complete list of ideas that will be tested you can go here.

NHL.com’s special section on the camp, which includes an archive of stories, can be found here.