Originally posted on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 12/8/11

By Alexander Monaghan
President

On Tuesday night, the Colorado Avalanche came into their away game against the Vancouver Canucks with a game plan. After diligently researching their opponent, they determined that playing a physical game will throw the defending Western Conference Champions off their game; after all, the ‘Nucks did seem somewhat out of sorts against the Boston Bruins when tested physically last Spring.

The Avs generally play an up-tempo game, reliant on their top two lines to provide adequate scoring. However, with Paul Stastny sidelined, they decided to alter their game plan in order to stay in the game. At least that was their original thought process.

By contrast, the result was terrible on both ends of the ice. The Avs were unable to solve both Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider en route to an embarrassing 6-0 loss. Perhaps more embarrassing than their performance was their actual conduct which included an absolutely brutal knee-on-knee hit by spare part Kevin Porter.

If you missed the play, let’s take a look at the video and exactly why Porter was suspended:

As far as Porter goes, you probably have to feel for the guy. He’s played in only 14 of the team’s 29 games and has only one goal to his name. The former Hobey Baker Award winner came through the ranks as a scoring line player but has been relegated to the fourth line or press box all season. Forced to adjust his game, the 25-year-old felt like he needed to make an impact and play the body.

But when David Booth was able to evade his hit, the Detroit native stuck out his knee in order to get a piece of the shifty winger. The rest is history — a dirty play, suspension-worthy and most likely debilitating to Porter’s future with the club. Porter is not a checking line player and playing out of his element clearly caught up to him.

Causing an injury also forced NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan‘s hand in making a decision. Politically, Shanny had to do something when considering the Canuck’s outrage and the injury caused on the play. Like it or not, Vancouver is a big draw for the NHL and bringing the Cup back to Canada would be a great thing for the sport.

By contrast, the Avs are in a tweener phase after finishing with the second-worst record in the League last year. Towards the end of the last season, the Denver Post didn’t even bother sending their reporters out on road games! Suspending a player like Porter is the popular decision, the right call and most importantly a move that won’t make him look bad.

When Shanahan chose not to suspend Milan Lucic for his now-infamous running of Ryan Miller by Milan Lucic, he put doubts in all of our minds. While running a goaltender is not the major crisis that Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier created, it was a controversial hit that injured another player. However, Shanahan would be suspending a poster boy of the current Stanley Cup Champions for playing within the current rule book. In short, he was in a no-win situation as his call, or non-call, set off whispers around the League.

Giving Porter four games is a victimless crime. It actually creates a benefiriciary in rookie Brad Malone and gives Booth and the Canucks some closure after the injury. Furthermore, it probably teaches the Avs to play their game. Or at least to play proper goons like Patrick Bordeleau and Cody McLeod when they decide to muck it up.


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