The Boston Bruins 2011-2012 season was full of hard hits, great plays, and a delightful selection of penalties. Boston’s own Shawn Thornton was tied for the most fighting minutes (20). The B’s played with an unrelenting physicality that ruffled opposing players and fans alike. The team had worked hard to keep ‘dirty hockey’ out of their game and succeded( for the most part).
Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s senior vice president in charge of player safety has been aggressive in handing out suspensions this season to players who by intention or accident, committed a serious breach of NHL rules. Fifty five suspensions were handed out this season. The largest of them was the Coyotes’ Raffi Torres’ late hit to the head of the Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa. That hit ended Hossa’s season(and possible career) and netted Torres a twenty-five game suspension. The Bruins were only assessed three suspendable offences this year. The total penalty for those suspensions was nine games.
Nine games. All in all, not too bad. The Philadelphia Flyers(14), and the Columbus Blue Jackets(12) had already beat the Bruins for the year in total games suspended before even getting out of the pre-season. The Bruins first suspension came a week before Christmas 2011. On December 17th, 2011, #17, Milan Lucic was hit with a one game suspension for an illegal check made against the Flyers’ Rinaldo.
The biggest suspension of the year was given to #63, Brad Marchand. He was given a five game suspension on January 9, 2012 for a clipping call made against the Vancouver Canucks’ Sami Salo. I watched that game. It was a rare night off and I was watching it with some of my closest friends from work. After watching the game, and Shanahan’s decision on the play I drew two conclusions. First, if Salo was aiming for an Academy Award for most dramatic performance, he had a solid shot at the Oscar. Second, Shanahan was upping the tempo on penalties and fines. Marchand served the five games and rejoined the team. The final Bruins suspension was imposed against #21, Andrew Ference. Ference was called to task for a boarding incident against the New York Rangers’ Ryan McDonough. He was suspended for three games on January 22 of this year.
Fifty five suspensions this seasons and the Bruins only had three. Two hundred plus games overall, and the Bruins only lost nine. Bruins’ Coach Claude Julien has made the Bruins a team to be feared and respected but he has made a team that fights hard, but fights with both class and integrity. Captain Zdeno Chara has been an example to his team both on and off the court, and save for a little trouble at Foxwoods *wink*, this team has held itself up well under media scrutiny.
For the sake of accuracy, the only team that got through the regular season without a penalty or fine was the Vancouver Canucks. I suppose this means this years President’s Cup Trophy winners played the “cleanest” hockey. I would say it is safe to say that most of us in Bruins Nation would disagree with that call. We all remember the 2010 – 2011 season. The Canucks played as dirty as possible and the Bruins were the NHL’s Stanley Cup Champions.