Saturday night's game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins was an ugly affair, that illustrated what happens when fighting and retaliatory tactics get out of control. Given what transpired, many expected punishments to be assigned to players on both sides, and on Monday, the first of what figures to be multiple suspensions was handed down by the league office.
After reviewing the film, the Department of Player Safety, under the leadership of discipline czar Brendan Shanahan, gave Penguins forward James Neal a five-game suspension for kneeing a defenseless Brad Marchand in the head while he was down on the ice.
In a video explanation Shanahan stated "With a clear view of Marchand and plenty of time to avoid him, Neal skates directly through Marchand's head with his left knee."
The hearing was conducted over the phone, and the $128, 205 fine and subsequent suspension is the maximum possible for a non face-to-face meeting. The suspension was Neal's third suspension of his career, and second in the last eight months.
There was plenty of evidence to support the league's decision, but on the other hand, it is easy to question why the office didn't even bother to review Brooks Orpik's high it on Bruins forward Louis Eriksson.
The recent developments also bode ill for Boston. If Neal got five games, how many games is Bruins forward Shawn Thornton going to get for his controversial knockout immediately following the Marchand incident.
Thornton is set for a face-to-face meeting with Shanahan at the league office later in the week.
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