An interesting piece of the long drought out NHL lockout Collective Bargaining Agreement puzzle was appealing suspensions. It is clearly noted that since “Shanaban” has become the NHL’s head of Department of Player Safety, he has been cracking down hard dishing out suspensions and creating a revolutionary media source to bring his explanations to fans.
Shanahan has been able to express exactly why a person was suspended or not, and why they got the fine or number of games they got. This has been ongoing all season thus far, and players have been getting suspended; although all under 5 games long. In the new CBA, players have the right to appeal suspensions that are 6 games or more. Instead of this staying within the NHL like in previously years, the appeal process will be directed to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman along with a neutral arbitrator.
So far there have been no appeals of this nature. The other day, Patrick Kaleta of the Buffalo Sabres was suspended for 10 games for his headshot on Jack Johnson. With the first player this season to get a suspension that is able to go to arbitration, Kaleta had declined to go to the appeal process. It puzzles me why the NHLPA would not test this new format, although Kaleta is obviously not the best “guinea pig” to use for this experiment noting his repeat offender label and suspension history. With the new process, the arbitrator has the ability to keep the suspension the same size, reduce the suspension, or keep the suspension but entitle the player with their money back. Evidently, the NHLPA seems to be hanging in tight waiting for the right moment and player to test the waters on their new agreement, and it makes them look much better as they are not abusing this new policy.
All in all, Kaleta was clearly not the right player for this appeal process. Not only did he have a dirty hit, but he is a repeat offender. This suspension being appealed would look bad on the NHLPA, and is good going into future appeals that may be issued. Hopefully there are no suspensions this large as the league looks to eliminate unsafe plays, but it is inevitable and we will see how the new appeal process pans out as the season progresses.