So this is pretty sketchy at the moment, but here are a few tweets to tide us over until the audio is released. It should be noted MSG Networks is part of the parent company that owns the Rangers among many other entities.
So without further ado here is reportedly what Shanahan said a few minutes ago:
Shanny announces that Hagelin's suspension may get reduced if Alfredsson plays tonight on @BoomerandCarton. He is on MSG right now.— MSG Networks (@MSGNetworks) April 16, 2012
@semaJamiL We will have videos later but he says big part of the suspension was Alfie has concussion according to team doctors.— MSG Networks (@MSGNetworks) April 16, 2012
Guys we said MAY get reduced.— MSG Networks (@MSGNetworks) April 16, 2012
We will have Shanahan's phone call up from @BoomerandCarton later on in the day for anyone who missed it.— MSG Networks (@MSGNetworks) April 16, 2012
To my knowledge the only way to reduce a suspension is an appeal via Bettman. And I don't think one of those has ever been successful.
And now per ESPN New York's Katie Strang:
#NYR Just got confirmation from Shanahan: Hagelin's 3-game suspension stands regardless of Alfredsson's status— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) April 16, 2012
CBS Sports has posted a link to this morning's interview with Brendan Shanahan. To listen to the full interview, you can follow this link. If you cannot listen to the show, no worries, we've taken here of you here. The following is a transcription of what was said:
Q: Rangers fans really want to know why a guy like Carl Hagelin get a three game suspension when Carkner’s (penalty) is premeditated and sucker punches Boyle and only gets a one game suspension.
Brendan Shanahan: Well, I mean I think they’re different plays, number one. The biggest difference between the two plays right off the hop is, is one play… look, we look at these things a little bit deeper. The biggest difference between the two plays is that there is a head injury and concussion on one and there is no injury on the other. Now that doesn’t mean one guy gets off and the other one doesn’t but when we looked at the play between Carkner and Boyle, Carkner asks Boyle to fight in response to Boyle going after their small, star player the game before. Boyle doesn’t fight back, which I don’t blame him (for). I probably wouldn’t have (fought) either. He does hit him in the face. He drops him and as was said to us in the hearing, if he hits him with five more punches, they are in the arm, shoulder and back. But for that, we thought that that was excessive, even though there is fighting in our sport. It is excessive to continue to throw punches on an unwilling participant, so we gave him a game. Boyle stands up and is fine. (He) doesn’t miss a shift. Whereas, unfortunately, with an elbow to the head, I do think he is a good kid. I do think Carl Hagelin is a good kid. He looks right at Daniel Alfredsson, skates at him and elbows him right in the head. And Alfredsson has to leave a big game, an important game, and has a concussion and doesn’t come back.
Q: Would you change your opinion if miraculously, Alfredsson winds up playing in game three?
Brendan Shanahan: Well, I think that that’s a possibility. I think you guys deal with this in other sports as well and we deal with it in hockey – usually when I deal with an injury report from the team doctor, most of these guys say, and what Ottawa said to me is they said, ‘this could be one day, this could be a year. You just don’t know.’
And we’ve had that situation happen this year before where we thought something was one day and it ends up being one month. We’ve had situations where a guy thought he was really bad and then a couple days later, he starts to feel really good. I mean it’s concussions. It’s head injuries. I don’t pretend to be a doctor but I think it’s very clear, at the very least, not faking otherwise (Alfie) would have come back and played on the power play in the last game – the five minute power play that they were given and played the rest of an important game. So whether (Alfie) is back tonight or back later on in the week, we just don’t know, but I made the call knowing that at the very least, whether it’s serious or not serious, we just don’t know with head injuries; there was an injury.
Q: With the premeditation with Carkner, I guess you guys are understanding about that. I have never understood that. I know that the only reason why he was dressed, the only reason why he was on the ice was to go after Boyle. And I understand why he went after Boyle, but to sucker punch him and then not know whether or not Boyle was knocked out or not, and continue to do that. And then, there’s really not anyone there to protect a defenseless player, and Dubinsky goes in there and Dubinsky gets thrown out for (being the) third man in. I guess there is some leeway there for referees not to make that call, is that right?
Shanahan: Yeah, and I’m not going to throw the referees under the bus but we’re a separate department. The referees are handled by Hockey Operations. We step in and do discipline when we think something goes beyond what was able to be penalized within a game. The referees used their judgment on Dubinsky and I don‘t know if they would have made that same call… I’ll give the referees this kind of credit: they have to make that call in that moment. I think maybe reviewing it to kick out Dubinsky for a third man in, I don’t know if they would do that again.
Q: How do you give a guy a third man in penalty when there wasn’t a second man actively involved in the fight?
Shanahan: Well, the actual rule of ‘third man in’, and it’s happened to me before when I as a player, it’s getting into an altercation. It doesn’t have to be like a consensual fight between two players, if you’re the third man in. Basically, the rule is imposed, and I don’t think that this necessarily was as great of example of when this rule was necessarily called in this instant but what this rule is set out to do is let the referees break it up and get in and do their job. It is to prevent two guys fighting or one guy in an altercation, in this case, with an unwilling participant, is to prevent a line brawl. So it’s sort of like, ‘stay out and let the referees do their job’. Whether or not the interpretation (of the rule) was the correct one, I mean, in the assessment in that moment, it was the correct one at that time. As a player, I would have done the same thing as Dubinsky. I would have come to the defense of my teammate. I remember learning the rule the hard way where I think my linemate, John MacLean, had gotten into a fight with Rob Ramage and they hadn’t even thrown a punch. And I dove on top of Ramage and I got kicked out for third man in. I said, ‘they hadn’t even started the fight yet’ and they said, ‘it’s an altercation, not a fight’.
Q: Here’s where I think you get in trouble. You get in trouble because you’re handing out punishment not based on the action, you’re handing out (punishment) based on the result of the action. (Note: interviewer uses example of Carkner being suspended longer had Boyle been injured longer or Alfredsson returning from the hit.)
Shanahan: Well, I don’t know that I’d exactly give (Carkner) three games but you’re right, I’m not going to argue with you there. It is true… well, I’ll argue with you to a certain degree. It’s not all based on the injury but it is a contributing factor. The degrees and the levels of punishment for any act…
Q Interjects: Now you’re a cagey veteran and that’s why you’re the right guy for this job because you get it. Alfredsson’s bright enough, and again I’m not diminishing the fact that he may have a concussion and who knows if we’ll see him again in the series, right, but he’s also played long enough to know: lay down; get a five misconduct out of that.
Shanahan: Well, that might be the case if he lays down and then he’s back out on the ice a little while later. He missed half of the game. His team went on a five minute power play of a game that they needed to win. Aside from questioning the integrity of a twenty year veteran like Alfredsson, I think that if this guy was faking, you could argue like he lays down and then he’s back out on the ice two to three minutes later. He left the game, so the degree of the injury... I’m hoping… I’m not hoping that Alfredsson is out for the rest of the series, but I’m not expecting that. I’m hoping that he’s back next game. I’m hoping that if he’s not back tonight, he’s back the game after. We really compared the Hagelin hit to the suspension two days ago to Byron Bitz on Kyle Clifford – which was a two game suspension for a shoulder to the head. We felt that an elbow to the head was more deliberate and caused an injury and that’s why we went from two (games) to three.
Q: So this brings up the question, Chris Phillips threw an elbow at Ryan Callahan’s head. Shea Weber took…
Shanahan: No. No, he didn’t. He really didn’t. I’ve been through this with the Rangers. They’re good arguments Boomer but all of these things, my job is to decide… in our department, we look at these things in-depth. We look at it from every angle with both tv feeds – home and away – and we decide to what degree. There’s never a black and white. I learned very early in my first year on the job this year that there’s never a black and white; it’s to what degree. And the degree of the Phillips hit on Callahan is not even remotely the same degree as…
Q: Is that because Callahan didn’t get hurt?
Shanahan: No, it’s a shoulder check to the body where there is some subsequent contact with the head. I think the fact that Callahan doesn’t get hurt is because of the nature of the hit. He started the power play. He didn’t miss a shift. Phillips got a penalty in the game and Callahan was on the ice to start that power play ten seconds later but I don’t think that those two hits are even in the same degree. It was worthy of a penalty for sure.
Q: Interviewer brings up the Shea Weber/Henrik Zetterberg fiasco at the end of game one where Weber basically takes Zetterberg’s head and jams his face it into the glass and only gets a $2,500 fine and asks, ‘When you’re trying to legislate against head shots and there’s nothing more egregious than what Shea Weber did to Henrik Zetterberg, yet he doesn’t get any suspension. How do you explain that?’
Shanahan: Well, again, I looked at that one and I’m not happy with that play. I’ll say in the bigger picture too, I’ve found that this was the case during the season as well, if I made a decision that people didn’t agree with or a day or two later, people were saying, ‘you got that one wrong’. A week later, they would hold me to that standard and then question my consistency when I move forward. The playoffs evolved. The games evolve. I have to keep (the standards) evolving with them. It’s not like the regular season where every team has 82 games to play. Everyone is playing on equal footing. They change depending on the score of the series; depending how many games are left to play in the series. Game one or two is different than game six or seven, you know that as a former athlete Boomer. I investigated that hit. I called Detroit that night. I think he pushed his head into the glass. I was very close to a one game suspension on that and when I talked to Detroit and I talked to their general manager (Ken Holland), he basically said that the (inaudible) was fine. But it’s a fair argument. For someone to say to me, by the way, the $2,500 is as high as we can fine a player.
Q: But it’s a nominal fine in the big picture. Now you’ve basically set the precedent Brendan and the level of injury is going to dictate the suspension as opposed to the act that caused the injury because…
Shanahan: No, no, no. It’s a contributing factor.
Q: No, it’s the whole factor because in one case, you have a guy who premeditatedly sucker punched a guy in the jaw and thenwhen that the guy is defenseless, threw five more body blows into him versus another kid who has never had a five minute misconduct in his life. We all agree that he’s a good kid. He’s not known as a dirty player who actually hit his idol, of all people. No one disputes that it’s a legitimate penalty but because Alfredsson doesn’t get up, you’ve changed the course of the series.
Shanahan: Well, I do think that there is a difference. The two players, Carkner did ask Boyle to fight, as I said. Boyle decided not to fight. He decided not to defend himself. I don’t blame him for doing that but Carkner did get suspended for that.
Q: Well, he’s also on the ground. How is he going to get up? The guy is on top of him and belting him.
Shanahan: No, I mean they were talking about it at the faceoff before. But like I said, I don’t blame Boyle for doing what he did. He’s an important player for the Rangers. I probably would have done the same thing. I might have kept my arms at my side but I would have defended myself in a different way.
Q: Do the Rangers have the right to appeal this?
Shanahan: Yes, they do.
Q: Are you surprised that the Rangers have accepted your punishment and are you surprised that they’re not appealing it? What would the appeal process be for a guy like you?
Shanahan: Well, the appeal would go right above my head to the commissioner of hockey.
Q: So if they appealed it, that goes to Bettman and it’s out of your hands once it gets appealed?
Shanahan: Right, I mean, we’d probably compare it to the Byron Bitz/Kyle Clifford suspension which was two games for the shoulder to the head. It was a bit more similar play. I don’t like what Carkner did. I don’t like it at all. I mean, let’s just be really honest about this, it’s never something that you’re going to a game or I watch a game as a player or as a fan and go in hoping or wanting to suspend a player. But it’s certainly something, I live here in New York. I understand the passion of the fans. It’s never something that is ever peripheral. You try and do your best. You try and use your judgment that you used as a player. You try to remember all those moments that you were on the ice yourself and in those situations and then you try to make the best call possible. But it is in the CBA and it’s in the CBA when I inherited this job that was negotiated between the Players Associaton and the league, that the injury plays a role in the decision in the amount of games doled out. That’s something that was decided way before I was playing and it is not the only factor but it certainly is a factor.
Q: It would kind of be interesting if Alfredsson all of a sudden shows back up in this series though. Well, I would appeal if (he does)…
Shanahan: I’ll be honest with you, they told there was a possibility that he would. I did not make the suspension (ruling) thinking that Alfredsson was done for the series. They hope he (comes back). When he has an injury report, I’ll see it from their team doctor. Their team doctor is on the NHL’s concussion protocol committee, so it’s not like it is some guy that we’ve never heard of. It’s an M.D. When there is a head injury involved, it’s required by the league and the NHLPA that (the diagnosis) is not done by a team trainer, it’s done by an M.D.
Q: Brendan, how much do you take into account a player’s previous injury history? (They use Sidney Crosby as an example.)
Shanahan: It’s a good question. It would play into it in the fact that, well, let me put it this way: you’re saying the injury is all that dictates the suspension and I disagree with that because if a player who has a history is hit cleanly and suffers a concussion on what we all deem is a clean bodycheck, it’s really all about the act. Whether Alfredsson has a history of concussions or not, I think when Hagelin skates twenty feet towards him and you’re right, this is his idol, he was a perfect gentleman on the hearing. I think he was honest and he was sorry for it but this was an elbow and he hit a player right in the head.
Q: Did he explain what he was doing there?
Shanahan: I’m the only person on the call that is defending the player who got hurt. In the hearing, it’s: me; it’s Glen Sather; it’s Carl Hagelin; it’s Hagelin’s agent; and it’s also the NHLPA.
Q: Was there a consideration for a longer suspension and it’s only three games because he was honest and contrite about it? Or was it never going to be more than three?
Shanahan: If he had a history, it would have been more than three games. I have yet to be on a hearing and hear a guy say, ‘I meant to do it. I hope he’s hurt.’ Like I said, when Byron Bitz got suspended for two games, he had no history. When Carl Hagelin got suspended for three games for an elbow to the head that caused a concussion, he had no history. If he had a history of doing this, it would certainly be more than three games.
Q: I hear where you’re coming from but again, the premeditation of Carkner really chaps me and the fact that he only gets one game. And then you compare that against Hagelin who by all accounts, has the same high character that Alfredsson has. I respectfully disagree with you. I really think it’s a real shame for the New York Rangers.
If you’re a player on the Rangers for the New York Rangers, how would you react to the guy who in your position, suspended Hagelin for three?
Shanahan: I was never happy with a suspension, whether it was me or a teammate. I mean, it’s about the playoffs. It’s about the passion and supporting your team, so I respect how you guys feel but I can only tell you that we’re trying to do this job with as much foresight and integrity as we can.
Q: Let’s just play out the fantasy: Alfredsson’s back for game three or worst-case, game four. Would the Rangers have a chance then to appeal the suspension to get Hagelin back for game five as opposed to game six. Or is there a window of time where if they don’t appeal it, they’re not allowed to appeal it after that.
Shanahan: The appeal would have to be before the first game of his suspension.
Q: So they’d have to do this before tonight?
Shanahan: Yeah and like I said, I made this decision fully knowing that they’re hoping that there’s a possibility that he plays tonight, if not later in the week. And also, there’s a sad realization that with a head injury, it could be longer. I don’t want to people to think that Ottawa duped me and said that Daniel is done for his career. They’ve said that he is feeling a little bit better. He still has a headache. We’re hoping that he feels better the next day but he’s doubtful.
Q: And he didn’t skate yesterday. There were reports that he didn’t skate at this practice, so I guess that’s legit.
Shanahan: Yeah, but I’m not going to pretend like I can see into the future and determine how long Daniel Alfredsson is going to be out. But I want it to be very clear that Ottawa was not dishonest about that. He did leave the game; an important game. If Alfredsson’s faking, he’s going to lay down, maybe go off for a couple of minutes and then come back on for the power play and he’s going to come back on for the third period. I think it’s legitimate. I don’t think the Rangers aren’t contesting that it’s legitimate and that he’s out with a head injury.