Claude Giroux Suspended One Game: NHL Playoffs Devils Flyers
Claude Giroux suspended one game for his hit to the head of Dainus Zubrus, will miss a pivotal Game Five of Philadelphia Flyers New Jersey Devils series
Claude Giroux deserved his one-game suspension if it was possible to view each disciplinary penalty in a vacuum. Giroux hit Dainus Zubrus a full thirty frames after the puck was dumped into the zone, which is enough for the minor penalty he drew. There were five seconds left in the period and the Devils were dumping the puck and not pressuring the play at the end of the period. There was absolutely no reason for the hit to ever be made, let alone a full second late, and particularly not to the head. Claude Giroux’s suspension is fitting when considering only the play and what it meant.
Additionally, the principle point of contact was to the head, which is exactly the type of hit the NHL is trying to eliminate, whether Giroux aimed for a head shot deliberately or not. For me, the stick checking that Giroux did moments before cutting Zubrus off and checking him proves exactly how deliberate the contact was. Giroux’s frustrated comments after the game only proved that the hit was deliberate, dirty, and had no place in the game. Claude Giroux deserved a one-game suspension if this series of dirty, unnecessary, and hot-headed, non-hockey plays is considered for what it is.
However, the NHL has set a precedent this postseason that is impossible to ignore. Shea Weber can grab a player by the head, smash his head and crack his helmet but still receive no penalty because of his previously clean record. It appears the NHL was about suspending players only if their dirty hits caused injury, electing to dole out fines as a scarlet letter moving forward instead of suspensions, especially to big-name players. Dainus Zubrus is a grinder, was uninjured, went on to score the game-winning goal and another for good measure. So far this postseason that was enough to avoid suspension, but is not the case here.
Giroux’s reaction furthered the need to suspend the Flyers’ top scorer. While Zubrus lay on the ice with his head in his hands, Giroux leaves making heated gestures. The play was obviously late and there’s no denying it was worthy of a two-minute minor at the very least. With no regard for Zubrus’ safety, the display Giroux put on showed no remorse in this bitter rivalry. There is simply no place in the game for that kind of hockey.
In other similar situations the players avoided ranting to the media, leaving their comments for their disciplinary hearing. This allowed Shanahan to close his eyes and trust that the players were the honest victims of a fast game. Giroux took to the media to vent his frustration, citing missed calls and aggravation as the root cause of the “questionable” hit. After essentially admitting he was angry when he hit someone in the head, the NHL’s hands were tied.
It also can’t help that Giroux plays for the Philadelphia Flyers of Broad Street Bully fame and a history of being a physical team that blurs the line of clean and dirty.
Ultimately, the suspension fits the crime despite Claude Giroux’s relatively clean track record. He was a full second late at the very end of a period, Giroux hit Zubrus high, wasn’t looking where he was hitting after cutting off Dainus Zubrus, initiated contact twice after the puck was dumped, and made contact to the head. He commented on it and admitted frustration throughout the game, which is absolutely unacceptable and foolish. Especially given the national broadcast showing replays of a frustrated Giroux getting chipped and then seeking out the late and dirty contact, the NHL had to do something. It’s questionable only because of the suspensions that preceded this play, but the NHL got it right in the end – they’ve just been wrong about just about everything else until now.
Where do the Flyers go from here? They trail 3-1 in the series and will be without by far the best player on their roster. Is this the type of thing that will propel them to a comeback or drive them deeper into the abyss? Either way, they’ll be without Claude Giroux for Game Five at home, and it’s the right decision by the NHL.
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