Fastest Five: Suspension City

The Fastest Five doesn’t want to waste any time, especially with the Duncan Keith suspension, so let’s go!

Five Games for Keith

THE MINT — 1. Duncan Keith isn’t a dirty player. In fact, he’s one of the most well-respected defencemen in the league. And when the league reviewed videotape from Wednesday night’s elbow to Daniel Sedin’s head in the Hawks 2-1 overtime win, the league knew they were in rare territory with a Norris Trophy winner, let alone someone who wasn’t a repeat offender.

But even with Keith’s outstanding record — which may have helped him in this case — the league went with standard protocol to punish him for an elbow — that Vancouver fans probably wish they could put him to death for – that knocked out Sedin for the rest of Wednesday’s game and Thursday nights game in Dallas as well.

The league responded with a 5-game suspension and Keith will lose just under $150,000. Here’s what NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan had to say about the hit.

“Regardless of Keith’s assertion that the intent on this play was to impede Sedin’s progress as opposed to a retaliation for an earlier hit, Keith’s hit was still dangerous, reckless and caused injury,” Shanahan said.

Dangerous? Sure, that’s true. Reckless? Yes. Caused injury? Yes, but how certain do we know Vancouver is telling the truth about Sedin’s injury?

Sedin was held out of Thursday’s game against Dallas because of a “suspected” concussion. I would think with the medical staff Vancouver has, they would know whether or not he had a concussion. If Sedin is out there for tonight’s game against Colorado skating around like nothing happened, ultimately they were trying to fool the league into thinking that he was more hurt than previously indicated, a process to get Keith suspended for way more time than he was penalized for. Alain Vigneault mentioned that the Canucks weren’t looking to pickup another forward for Saturday’s game, leaving the door widely open to Sedin’s return. Vancouver is that dirty, they know the Hawks are hot and this is so possible. Shanahan said part of the reason why the hit led to a five-gamer was the fact it led to injury. Now that it’s all over, it’ll be interesting if Sedin is back on the ice tonight.

I know, you’re probably thinking: ‘Nichols, you really went that way this time?” Yeah, I did. But regardless of that little idea I have, it’s without doubt Keith should have been suspended for the hit. He knew it was wrong. We in Chicago knew it was a cheap shot. As always, it’s the person who retaliates in any situation that gets the punishment. Keith knew what he was doing — there was intent, it was thought of — and although I don’t believe he was trying to physically injure Sedin, he indeed sent him and the Canucks a clear message.

For years now they’ve been on the giving end of hits like that. Do remember what happened to Brent Seabrook in Game 3 last season? The Canucks are dirty. Don’t even make me point a finger at Alex Burrows.

Luckily the league looks at the broader picture of the hit. Why did it happen? What led up to it? And in this case, Keith wasn’t like a New Orleans Saint with a bounty to be cashed — although, with Vancouver, you might want to make an exception — Keith mainly was defending himself for a hit prior from Sedin, in which he put his shoulder right in Keith’s head.

Oh, you mean, Keith just didn’t seek out Sedin on his own, like the Canucks do? He had some help? Of course he did. Sedin helped him out earlier.

What can you blame Keith for? A technicality? Sure. Lack of judgment? Sure. But Duncan Keith had every right to do what he did to Daniel Sedin, who deserved every bit that elbow. He doesn’t deserve an injury to keep him out of action. But he needs a taste of his own medicine. As I alluded to prior, the Vancouver Canucks are a dirty team. Yes they are. Don’t shake your head, especially you Vancouver fans reading this. The Canucks are dirty. They’re bullies. And you have to hit a bully in the mouth to get them to stop.

Except when Vancouver gets hit, they turned the tables like the Devil. They cry. They whine. They make themselves out to be the victim when they’re are the greater evil. And that’s what they’re doing right now. They’re crying. Boo hoo. Boo hoo. Because why? Somebody stood up to them and they don’t like it? They’re not as tough as they thought they were? They’re still frustrated that they can’t win a Stanley Cup?

Child, please.

This whole situation could have been avoided if Sedin hadn’t put his shoulder right into Keith’s head before he got elbowed. That had mal-intent and could have seriously injured Keith as well. Sedin should have been held accountable for his hit as well. Ketih, who doesn’t play dirty, reacted in a way never seen before. Who likes getting hit in the head when it was uncalled for? Good for Duncan Keith. It was justice. He was provoked.

The truth may never come out of Keith. That’s something you’ll never really hear unless you’re God, his teammates, TV, couch, beer and wife at home.

But, here it is, again, Keith’s payback.

You want the best players to play and you don’t want to see anybody hurt. That’s why I hope Sedin plays tonight. But when it’s the Vancouver Canucks — a team who likes to dish out hits but hates to take them — I’m not all for making up special rules, but how can you just sit there and not allow Keith to get his? How can Sedin get away with a nasty hit and Keith get punished?

Sedin’s lucky he didn’t get suspended for his hit. If this is not a star player on the Canucks or any team, Keith should have had two or three games, at max. And really, that’s what Keith should have anyways.

Vancouver doesn’t realize it initiated the whole sequence of events — they are the root of the evil in this case — and yet they’re not penalized. Evil wants to get away with evil, but complain when evil hits them right back in the face. Hypocritical? C’mon Vancouver, you’re to blame for this, too. We’ll accept the punishment, for we know it was wrong. But Vancouver can’t just skate off like they did nothing wrong here.

Suspensions on a larger scale

1A. Even though Keith will return for the last 2 games of the season, his suspension CAN cost the Hawks home ice and significant playoff revenue. The NHL had its best interest in mind in this decision because the Blackhawks are surging, let alone one of the most popular teams, who preside in the third largest media market in America. If you get a Hawks team that loses to someone like Nashville in the first round, you have lost a good portion of your ratings, let alone revenue for the league and especially in Chicago. Money is greatly involved in this suspension.

Sure, the NHL has to deal with whoever makes it into the Cup, but the last four cups have had giant ratings due to the fact that an Original Six and some major market franchise participated in it. Detroit and Pittsburgh went back-to-back. Chicago and Philadelphia had enormous ratings. Boston and Vancouver was great — and went 7. Hockey needs big winners. Why do you think the Winter Classic stays East of the Mississippi? 1) because it’s cold. 2) they can’t miss with the ratings. All the significant teams are there.

If you suspend a top player from a big market team (you know what I’m talking about), the NHL’s product will truly suffer if the team falters down the stretch. Why do you think its licking its chops with Sidney Crosby’s return? I’m not saying the league is being reckless with Sedin’s health over ratings, but for what the Western Conference has, it has Chicago. And if Chicago or Detroit can draw a Stanley Cup appearance with an Eastern Conference team like Boston, New York, Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, the NHL will go the lengths it can to make sure that it happens. May be call Keith’s timing perfect, because Shanahan threw him a bone for a couple of reasons: first timer, Chicago’s surge, the playoffs and ratings.

2. Matt Forte has every right to be upset that the Bears offer more money to his backups, but what I can’t understand is why the Bears won’t pay him? He’s been the Jack-of-all-trades since he’s gotten to Chicago. He’s exceeded his expectations and blew the doors off his rookie contract. It’s time the Bears brass got together in a room with Mr. Forte and give him the deal he deserves. Forte is the reason their offense got as far as it has the past few seasons and if you give him what he’ll make with the tag next season in just guaranteed money, which seems to be the what the bridge is missing — $7.7 million and $9.2M if they so choose to do so again in 2013 — that’s near $17M and about what Forte should get in guaranteed money. So if the Bears are willing to dish out one-year contracts to him for this season and possibly next season, why is GM Phil Emery pulling a Jerry Angelo? Why can’t they make that deal now, lock up one of the best backs in football and make their guy happy? If Marshawn Lynch just got four years for $31 million (and he spends it on his teeth), Matt Forte should have a contract that makes Lynch’s look silly.

3. Jason Smith’s body check to Blake Griffin was hysterical. Was it necessary? Heck no. But it was hysterical. Hysterical because it happened in New Orleans of all places. You think the Saints had anything to do with that one?

There’s Sean Payton’s next job, he can coach the Hornets. Griffin looked like he got his by a Kia Optima.

4. Warren Sapp didn’t lose his duties over at the NFL Network in a tweet that indicated Jeremy Shockey was a snitch in the whole Saints bounty scheme but here’s an issue where a journalistic approach could have saved Sapp from getting into the predicament.

Unless sources are primary or secondary, you really have nothing to go on unless it is confirmed by a primary or secondary source — someone directly related to the situation. That’s what Warren Sapp didn’t do. His sources were close to a source that believed Jeremy Shockey was the “snitch” of the whole thing. Meaning, he took some random guy’s word about it.

Stop right there. That’s why ESPN and other networks go on for days saying “Tebow’s going here,” “Manning is going there.” “This person will make his decision tomorrow on the suspension and it’ll be eight games.”

You hear it all the time. And most of these sources are always wrong. Proper research wasn’t made and ultimately, it should have gotten Sapp fired because he failed to use good journalism judgment and then went on air and made it public.

I’m not bothered by Warren Sapp. But his journalistic credibility is something that does. He’s a player. He has no journalism skills whatsoever. Yes, he talks on the NFL Network, but before he opens his mouth he needs to find out if what’s coming out his sources’ mouth is credible. Or go to a couple of journalism classes. That’s why you get ESPN and Chris Broussard and Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen on SportsCenter for a week straight repeating the same information.

5. Double Nichols — 10 things I got my eye on

5.1. The Cubs have sent Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo back to the minors for now, but remember those two names in come May when the team calls them up for good. Jackson and Rizzo are the future but the Cubs don’t want to speed up the process too fast. Jackson can’t get a spot in the outfield for the simple fact that there’s no room for him. David DeJesus is in right, Alfonso Soriano is in left and Marlon Byrd controls center. Should any of them falter, especially Byrd (who could get traded), Jackson’s in. Rizzo, on the other hand, has first locked up — but Bryan LaHair stands in his way.  My guess: Rizzo comes up earlier than Jackson, when LaHair struggles.

5.1.2. The famed Eamus Catuli sign on one of the rooftops at Wrigley Field might be staying or going — the building’s owner doesn’t know for sure. But the numbers you see marking how long the Cubs haven’t won anything looks like it will be taken down. Those signs I believe went up in the late 90’s and that’s not a big deal. That Toyota sign, though, is.

5.2. My bracket actually held up halfway — Baylor and Kentucky and Kansas and North Carolina. Top seeds have held true with the exception of Louisville and Florida. So if you went with the top three in basically every region, you did OK.

5.3. I still haven’t tried 312 in its can version. A friend on Facebook told me if I just pour it into a glass, it’s all good.

5.4. I shouldn’t knock it till I try it — or can I? What’s with Hunger Games? I saw a story on ABC 7 on Friday and they interviewed teenage girls about it and they all seemed to be obsessed with it like they had just seen Justin Bieber or another movie from the Twilight series. Meaning: if teenage girls are crying over it after the show, I’m not going to it. Has anybody seen Project X?

5.5. Anyone seen the police brutality video from St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago? Well, it really isn’t brutality if you ask me, but some young man decided to act all tough and get into a couple of bouncers face last Saturday, and when he did so with a cop, he got choked, pinned to the curb and then arrested.

It’s a warm Saturday in Chicago, everyone is drunk from St. Patty’s, what the hell do you expect? Peace and harmony? Tell the kid to not get drunk, think he’s a UFC fighter or whatever and not start fights at bars.

5.6. Derrick Rose has a new crib at the Trump Tower in Chicago and check this place out: click link to view Rose’s digs.

5.7. I heard a stat that 2/3 of people who are on Pinterest is women. And it should be kept that way…

5.8. FLOUR BOMB! Someone threw flour on Kim Kardashian Thursday night at some event in West Hollywood. It would have been even cooler if she vanished once getting hit. I’m surprised it didn’t go to her ass already.

5.9. Speaking of food, I went to Taco Bell and tried that Nacho Cheese Doritos taco and it was delicious. Taco Bell definitely isn’t the standard for Mexican food but we all love it anyways, even if it isn’t good for your health. I’ll be going back for more that’s unless of course I can move out to Manhattan Beach, CA and go to my spot — El Burrito, Jr.

5.10. The Texas Rangers are going to serve a 2-foot long hot dog for $26 that can serve up to three people. I’m sure Kim Kardashian’s ass can handle it all by herself.

Alright you folks, have a good weekend. Enjoy the rest of the Madness and remember, baseball is less than two weeks away!

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