Vancouver winger Daniel Sedin lays on the ice after he was hit from behind by Calgary's Paul Byron

Vancouver winger Daniel Sedin lays on the ice after he was hit from behind by Calgary's Paul Byron

Blog: Byron’s hit on Daniel Sedin a problem Brendan Shanahan created

Sedin was carted off the ice last night – in the final game of the season – when he was hit from behind by Calgary's Paul Byron...

I have feared (as a fan, not as a citizen of the earth) nights like last night since a very specific date: May 18, 2011.

That was the night that Vancouver beat San Jose 7-3 and opened up a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals. It was also the night that Ben Eager – the bushman goon of the Sharks who, when he choses a wiser route, is actually a pretty skilled player – threw Daniel Sedin into the boards from behind, a good two feet off the wall and not far from the penalty box that Eager would inhabit moments later.

Daniel was unhurt, remarkably.

Eager got two minutes or something cheap and post-coitus like that, then challenged everyone in blue to a fight from behind the glass he put himself in. Eager went out and scored a late goal, cutting the lead to four.

Before the next match, all the talk was about whether Eager would play. His temper had cost San Jose a chance to contend in Game 2, they said, and Canucks fans gloated loudly that, “Hey, let him play! Our boys will just go around that talent-less sack and score!”

But I was in fear, as a fan. Daniel could have easily been carted off that night, like he was on Sunday when Calgary’s Paul Byron – an everyday AHLer who wanted to show the hockey world he existed in Game 82, a meaningless affair between two teams who collapsed long before the league’s season season – completed his check in the worst way possible, planting each of his hands on Daniel’s 22 and slamming the two-goal twin into the end boards.

(And what if it wasn’t Game 82 for Vancouver… what if they actually were heading to the playoffs? Wouldn’t you be even more pissed off then, Canucks fans, if Sedin had to miss another first round or more because of a conscious cheap shot to your star player?)

I feared, way back in 2011, that the league’s castoffs had figured out what they apparently now have: it doesn’t matter if you do anything legal in the NHL.

You’ll get a refreshing, short suspension and the other team you just crippled will still be suffering from it when you get back.

Byron claimed he wasn’t trying to hurt Sedin and I, of course, believe him.

Any other day, it’s a pretty routine collision. But it wasn’t any other day… it was the last game of the season and Byron should know better.

If Byron expects to be an actual, 24-7 professional hockey player and not just a 5’7 on-loan mite from Abbotsford, he better learn to know better.

Then again, who says he has to?

That hit by Byron last night was a perfect showcase of the problems Brendan Shanahan has created and then left for this league going forward.

I realize being the NHL’s disciplinarian is a thankless job, blah blah blah… But don’t all of us have thankless jobs?

Under Shanahan’s watch, the memo basically went out that the only way to take out star players was to do it illegally, and your repercussions were minor and temporary.

Like when Zdeno Chara slammed Max Pacioretty into the bench’s stanchion in 2011 and then claimed it was a freak accident, like somehow the big Slovakian – who had been playing hockey all his life, for 30-plus years – didn’t know where the benches were or what the danger was.

Like when Duncan Keith – the dirtiest star playing the NHL – savagely elbowed the same Sedin in the head a month out of the 2012 playoffs.

Keith got two games, which is a pretty typical length for the Shanahan regime – uninterested and unwilling to punish anyone who’s last name isn’t Torres. (That guy has been serving everyone else’s suspensions since 2010.)

Pretty much the same thing happened with Keith in last year’s playoffs, when he slashed Jeff Carter in the face in the Western Conference Final and got one game. I repeat… he slashed Jeff Carter in the face and got ONE game.

The fallout from that was minimal, because Carter wasn’t hurt. I mean, I’m sure the slash in the teeth hurt, but he didn’t miss any action. But still… Duncan Keith slashed another player in the head, with a full around-the-world swing, and he pled guilty for a shorter sentence, doing it all like he was the victim.

That stick was half an inch from things going a lot worse for Keith’s soon-to-be Canadian Olympic teammate.

How about when Shea Weber slammed Henrik Zetterberg’s head into the boards in their quarterfinal series in 2012? Zetterberg’s helmet broke – again, only chance kept him from spending months without the lights on. But Weber didn’t receive a game, just because he had never been suspended before, and because Shanahan didn’t feel like stepping up.

Does the league really care about concussions, or does it just care about them when somebody else is watching?

That is the danger, of course, with idolizing and then canonizing guys like Shanahan… terrific, Hall of Fame players who themselves had a hard-nosed edge to their style, who would have made the hit Byron made last night or would have tossed some guy’s head into the glass when given the chance, and then they would have pled out the Canadian way – “I didn’t mean it… I hope he’s okay… I really didn’t mean it…”

My favourite excuse is one that Byron gave last night: “You never like to see that stuff.”

You never like to see that stuff?

Then why’d you do it?

But the league has always been careless about its priorities. It’s not the United States or Sunrise, Florida that spoiled its brand, it was the NHL on its own. And when CONCUSSION reared its head as the newest PR buzzword for the league to pretend to cater to, the NHL went all Joe McCarthy on it and they witch-hunted the easy targets and left the Keiths and the Charas to feast on the finer things.

The league pulled itself up from its own mess and then blamed it on the janitor.

Like when Bud Selig watched baseball’s biceps balloon and then pitchforked steroid users to save his own tush.

And so when I hear that Byron won’t have a hearing for last night’s hit, I know Canucks fans will be upset, but I don’t care anymore.

What are they going to do? What if they gave Byron a hyperbolic 82-game suspensions? What would that even do?

Byron’s absence wouldn’t hurt Calgary, it would only hurt Abbotsford. Bob Hartley would just have more to whine about. And Daniel Sedin still would have aged five years in half a second. Pundits will say the Twins are getting older, that the best Canucks are past their primes, and maybe they are. But we’ll never know if that’s true, just like we’ll never know what Paul Kariya could have been if Gary Suter hadn’t rammed the Anaheim star’s brain into 1936.

That’s the NHL right now. And it won’t change until the players do.

(*Originally published on Kolby Solinsky’s blog at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A decade into the 100-year blueprint for restoring the Bowker Creek watershed, Soren Henrich, director of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, feels positive about the future of conservation and daylighting of the creek. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Ten years in, Greater Victoria’s 100-year Bowker Creek blueprint gets a boost

Victoria council passes several restoration recommendations

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ on Sooke Road

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

A resurfacing of the tennis court in Metchosin is being eyed for the community. However, funding opportunities still need to be solidified for the project. (Michelle Cabana/Black Press Media)
Renewed surface eyed for Metchosin tennis court

Funding source must first be solidified in order for project to happen

Paragliders worked to capture a big enough gust to get them flying near Clover Point Saturday. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents dive in and take flight under sunny skies

Warm, sunny weather had people flocking outside Saturday

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels after found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Retired B.C. teacher and star CFL kicker charged for assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

Most Read