- Craig Custance
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TORONTO -- NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan had pointed words for the criticism coming from Buffalo that goalies aren't being protected enough after his decision not to suspend Boston's Milan Lucic for his collision with Ryan Miller.
On Saturday, Miller was knocked to the ice by Lucic when the
goalie strayed from his net to play the puck in the first period of
Buffalo's 6-2 loss.
"It just means that teams will be to able do exactly what Lucic did," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff told reporters in Montreal. "Your goaltender can play the puck, we can run him over, we can hurt him and all you get is a two-minute minor penalty.
"That is essentially what that means -- you can concuss the other team's goalkeeper ... it means it's fair game on goaltenders again."
The NHL's new disciplinarian reacted strongly to complaints from
the Sabres on Monday.
"It's completely irresponsible for people in Buffalo and management to suggest that it's open season on goalies," Shanahan said. "I can assure and warn the players that it's not. I'll view each and every one of these cases case-by-case. It's illegal to hit the goalie as the rulebook states. Depending on the intent and depending on the situation, a player runs the risk of being suspended."
Told of Shanahan's comments after Buffalo's 3-2 shootout win over the Canadiens, Ruff stood by his words.
"I said what I said, and I'm not going to back down from what I said," he said.
"It was a little bit disappointing," said Sabres captain Jason Pominville. "Obviously, us, being on the side where the goalie gets hit, we would have liked to have action taken, especially that Ryan is going to miss time. At the same time I'm sure they have their reasons but we have our reasons, too, to think that it might open the door to other things to happen.
"I mean, if that's not a suspension, I don't know what can be on a goalie getting hit out of his space."
In this case, Lucic wasn't suspended. He had an afternoon hearing Monday with the league for the hit that caused Miller's concussion and explained that it was too late for him to move out of the way following his pursuit of the puck.
"I felt until that moment, it's reasonable that he really felt this was a potential breakaway," Shanahan said. "He should have made more of an effort to get out of the way ... the reason this isn't, in my mind, supplemental discipline is because Lucic makes no movement towards Miller. It's shoulder-to-shoulder contact. I don't think it's any reasonable expectation on that collision that there's necessarily going to be an injury of that degree."
In a text to ESPN.com, Sabres GM Darcy Regier confirmed that he hoped to bring up the incident and decision when the NHL general managers meet Tuesday in Toronto.
Information from ESPN The Magazine's Craig Custance and The Associated Press was used in this report.
12hDanny Knobler, Special to ESPN.com