The NHL and former Red Wings forward Brendan Shanahan, the league's new player safety czar, handed down a decision on Brendan Smith last week, essentially ending the young defenseman's attempt to make the Wings' opening night roster.
In the league’s decision, Smith received an eight-game suspension, which included five NHL regular-season contests, for his illegal hit to the head of Chicago forward Ben Smith.
While Smith didn’t agree with the league sentence, it was the right thing. The league is trying to crack down on shots to the heads of its players. So Smith took his lumps, said he'll learn from his mistake, and last weekend he returned to Grand Rapids, the Wings' American Hockey League affiliate, where he began to prepare for the Griffins’ season-opener Saturday night in Rockford.
However, today the AHL announced that its president, David Andrews, has independently reviewed the Smith-on-Smith collision – which occurred Sept. 28 at Chicago’s United Center – and he’s decided that Brendan’s hit warrants a separate three-game suspension in the AHL. Smith can return to action Oct. 18 in Grand Rapids.
Apparently, this is nothing new, and it’s been part of the AHL’s by-laws. But man, talk about piling on. And the worst thing is that Smith still must sit out five NHL games at some point.