Was 12 games enough of a penalty for what Americans forward Brendan Shinnimin did to Blades forward Josh Nicholls?
Before answering that question, I often look at the circumstances more objectively if I put the Kelowna Rockets in the same situation.
So let's say Rockets forward Cody Chikie, another 19 year-old who is also a skilled player, did the same thing. Would Rockets' fans think the suspension was too excessive or appropriate?
The fact is, Shinnimin needs to pay the piper, no question, but this isn't some slug who goes around the ice trying to stir things up. He does not intimidate you physically. Shinnimin is a goal scorer/play maker (27 goals and 82 points) on a high tempo team that preaches skill. Americans GM Bob Tory and coach Jim Hiller run a solid organization where the players actions both on and off the ice are the reason why they are so well respected across the league.
The fact remains, Shinnimin made a dumb decision...a real dumb decision. Fortunately for him, Nicholls will recover and both players can walk away from this situation breathing a sigh of relief. Nicholls will play again and Shinnimin will have learned a lesson that will be with him for a life time.
The twelve game suspension is adequate in my eyes. I think anything over ten shows the hockey world that the Western Hockey League is serious about throwing the book at any player, whether he's skilled or not, that these hits won't be tolerated.
The Western Hockey League has to do some damage control here too. The WHL has to show that it is a safe place for its players and the league is a far cry from what it was 30 years ago.
A lesser suspension would have only given U.S college hockey and other recruiters more ammunition that major junior is an unsafe developmental league for junior age players, which is so far from the truth its laughable.
Thank goodness, hits like the one Shinnimin applied on Nicholls are rare.
With this 12 game suspension, the Western Hockey League wants to keep it that way, if not eliminate them all together.