Originally written on Goon's World  |  Last updated 11/13/14
I have to be the guy to agree with a lot of what has been said regarding officiating but I also am going to be the guy to pose a theory to the masses for public consumption.

And, yeah, it is going to sound a lot like an apology for Brenden Shanahan but it isn't.

Brenden Shanahan is in a position no one wants to have but everyone has an opinion of what should be done by a person in such a position.  However, he's not done a good job or even an ok job with the position.  He has been inconsistent and unsatisfying in his performance.  It's just presented all glitzy with videos and bulleted lists.  But looking at it from afar, there's a lot that doesn't add up.

Look at the inconsistency and the double standards of Shanahan's actions doesn't appear to me that the decisions regarding whether or not to suspend players was actually being made by Shanahan.  His actions this year seemed almost identical to that of Colin Campbell's Wheel of Justice system.  There were a few times during Campbell's administration of this position and during Shanahan's administration where they went against the trend (such as suspending Ovechkin and perhaps you can argue that it was the case for Giroux and Backstrom but I'll get to that shortly) but that may only be to prevent appearance to the players that they are playing favors.

Add onto the fact that no matter what, when a fanbase sees their guys suspended for a hit they get mad and point out flaws in previous decisions and also when a fanbase sees their guys get hit and even injured they point to it as justification for the hitting player to get pummeled with the book.

It becomes a mess.

So where does Shanahan come in?  He comes in having never served in such a level of authority.  He only comes in as a face.  People know who he is.  That's about it.  So, when thrust into the limelight like this you have to sink or swim.  And here's where it gets interesting:

Can you improve the quality of a weakness when the primary weakness are the people above you on the chain of command?

Can Shanahan even suspend players like Malkin even if he wants to?  There is no secret that Bettman and Campbell's love children are Malkin, Crosby, and the Pittsburgh Penguins (to a certain extent).  Bettman has certain placed the emphasis on the PR marking campaign on the shoulders of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin by extension.  So would it do for the NHL to see either suspended?  I'm sure not.  So, I doubt Campbell would allow Shanahan to suspend either player (even though Crosby really has yet to administer an illegal or even questionable hit). 

As for Giroux and Backstrom being exceptions, I argue not so much.  I truly don't think that anyone other than Malkin and Crosby are truly exempt from suspension if the situation is right. 

But in the end, all it comes down to is Shanahan's bosses.  They truly do seem to be calling the shots and simply use Shanahan's player profile to deflect all the criticism away from Campbell and onto Shanahan.  Therefore, if it does fail (which it appears that it is so) Bettman can step forward and say "Look, we listened to you and we tried your idea and it failed.  Campbell knows what he's doing and we're just going to go back to the old way and try to hammer out some of the troubles through traditional channels."  Bettman still doesn't look bad that way and the only harm done is Shanahan's image being obliterated.  Shanahan never was a Crosby type so why would Bettman care. 

If this season was a first run test and next year is the real test for Shanahan, I'm betting he fails again because I don't think Shanahan truly has the autonomy necessary for Shanahan to live up to what he talks about.  He can suspend anyone with impunity (provided the situation and circumstances warrant it). 

I claim that Shanahan is nothing more than lipstick on a pig when it comes to the NHL Front Office.  It looks nice and he tries hard but in the end, you're not going to improve on officiating and Shanahan's job description with the likes of Gary Bettman and Colin Campbell still in positions of power.

What says you?


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