Alrighty! Now that we've all had a little bit of a "cooling off period" after Brendan Shanahan's announcement of the Wisniewski suspension, let's take a look at the fallout.
Having taken part in a few Twitter discussions and grabbed a little sleep and contemplate the matter some more… I can safely say I pretty much agree with everybody that this whole thing sucks... because let's face it, it does.
I might even agree that the suspension is excessive… considering that Clutterbuck certainly displayed a flair for the dramatic at a rather convenient juncture. Hey, he got up, and he was out there on the power play, right? Apparently Shanahan was not Wisniewski's "he embellished" bit, nor did he seem to even consider the argument.
It is possible to argue that Wisniewski was not targeting clutter buck said we could argue this. We can argue that Wisniewski was in a defensive position. Unfortunately, it's still contact to the head, and that's a no-no.
Eight games is harsh. There is no question about that. However, my guess (and this is just a theory) is that Wisniewski's repeat offender status – and the fact that his last hit-related suspension was also for eight games – was the main determining factor for the length of the suspension. I'm thinking Shanahan figured the infraction was not necessarily more severe than the hit on Seabrook two seasons ago, but felt he couldn't go lower.
So, my theory is that the message to be gleaned from the Wisniewski ban is: If you are a repeat offender, don't bet on sitting out fewer games then you did on your previous suspension.
Again, this is just a theory. We'll have to see what happens when someone screws up again while Shanahan's in charge of player safety, and find out whether he's consistent. Hopefully, it is not Wisniewski and the Blue Jackets dealing with it again.
There are quite a few fans who feel the punishment is excessive, and that the Blue Jackets are getting screwed over (again) because they're the Blue Jackets.
To those fans, I offer this: The responsibility for this situation, when all is said and done, still lies with James Wisniewski. Amid our celebration at Scott Howson's bold move to secure the Jackets' long-awaited puck-moving defenseman, I'm struggling to recall any mention of Wisniewski's past – whether it be his hit on Seabrook, the two suspensions prior to that, or his suspension for demonstrating to Sean Avery what kind of items he might find at an adult bookstore.
I won't lie… I don't remember seeing any mention of his previous disciplinary... wanderings.
I will also tell you quite frankly, having worked in public relations for a while, that such transgressions are not likely to make it into a press release.
Now, is that the fault of the team? Of course not. Anyone can Google the not-so-pleasant aspects of hockey players.
So right now, it's tough being a Blue Jackets fan, when one of your new guys that came with so much hype is in trouble, and – as much as we rail against thugs like Matt Cooke, Danny Carcillo, and Todd Bertuzzi – now everybody else in the NHL is acting holier-than-thou when they talk about Wisniewski.
My favorite "holier-than-thou" read of the evening comes from the Octopus Thrower blog, which backed off from previous criticism of Red Wings general manager Ken Holland for losing out in the quest to get James Wisniewski in the off-season.
The author goes on to, predictably, bash the Blue Jackets organization for its prior history of futility, and essentially dismisses the club as a second rate franchise with a "slim to none chance of ever touching the Stanley Cup." The author also goes on to dismiss Wisniewski as a selfish guy who is "not a team player" and displays "volatile behavior."
This, coming from a fan of the team that has signed paychecks to such princes-among-men as Darren McCarty, Derian Hatcher and -- lest we forget -- Todd Bertuzzi.
Yeah, sure… don't forget your tissues, pal. You're going to get a nosebleed up there on that high-horse.
For once, a Columbus Blue Jacket has done something to make the team look bad. James Wisniewski is more than likely not a bad guy. However, he made a very bad decision, and he's paying for it.
Like I said yesterday, it sucks when it's one of your own. It sucks even worse when someone writing about the Detroit Red Wings starts bashing an "overpriced goon" -- and the assertion is clearly not to be interpreted as tongue-in-cheek.
Yet... we can't blame the Octopus Thrower. We can't blame the Red Wings. We can't blame Brendan Shanahan.
Well, technically, we can, but so far, that's not solving anything.
Sure, we'll gladly welcome Wiz back. We'll cheer for him as he takes the ice October 25, when the Wings are in town.
But make no mistake about it... the only person we can and should blame for all this... is James Wisniewski.
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