Read: How The NHL Goes Through The Discipline Process

Last week, Brendan Shanahan released a video called “Evolution of a Suspension” that details the process he and his department take to decide if a player needs supplementary discipline.

Shanahan says that the mission statement of the Department of Player Safety is, “We are committed to making the game as safe as possible for our players while preserving the intensely physical, competitive and passionate nature of hockey.”

He says “our job is asses when an on ice foul may have risen to a level where league discipline is required.”

There are four steps in the “Evolution of a Suspension:

  1. Identify/review the incident
  2. Conduct Hearing
  3. Determine Severity of Supplemental Discipline
  4. Release Video

Identify/review the incident:

Shanahan says

  • “If we feel that a particular incident is even questionable, one of our coordinators clips the video with all the angles available.
  • The clip is emailed to the Department of Player Safety and Hockey Operations.
  • He notes that there were over 800 incidents reviewed last season but only 63 hearings
  • “If we conclude that no NHL rule has been broken, the review ends there REGARDLESS of injury or history. “
  • “If a play is deemed illegal, we then determine to what degree it violates NHL rules and whether the action can be sufficiently penalized by the on-ice officials or supplemental discipline is required.”

Conduct Hearing

Shanahan says:

  • All hearings are by phone unless there is a chance that a suspension is for more than six games. If that is the case then a player can request an in-person meeting.
  • The people who participate in the hearing are the player, GM, NHLPA and the players agent.
  • The incident is discussed the player is allowed to explain his actions. Comments are heard from the player, GM, agent and NHLPA rep.
  • No decision is made prior to the hearing. He notes that out of 63 hearings last year, 8 led to non-suspensions.
  • After the hearing ends, the Senior Members of the Department of Player safety decide whether there will be no supplementary discipline or whether they will move forward with a fine or suspension.

Determine Severity of Supplemental Discipline

Shanahan says:

  • “Only at this point in the process do we take into account a players prior history as well as any injury to the player involved.”
  • “It is important to note that the absence or prior history or lack of an injury does not change a suspension to a non-suspension. However, if we have decided that supplemental discipline is necessary, these two factors may increase the severity of the suspension.”
  • Comparable plays are then looked at.
  • The factor that weighs highest in determining length of suspension is not just prior history, but the timeline of the prior incidents.