The ruling was passed down from NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan yesterday that Wild winger Brad Staubitz will be suspended for the rest of the preseason, as well as the first three games of the regular season.
At least publicly, the Wild hasn’t cried foul about the ruling, and Staubitz said yesterday, “I want what’s fair.” Thus far in his new role, Shanahan has been strict, but consistent in his dealings with dangerous hits. He also suspended James Wisniewski for eight regular season games for his blow to the head of Cal Clutterbuck on Friday night.
In past years, there didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the suspensions handed out, and there seemed to be preferential treatment given to certain players over others. Shanahan has been proactive, not only with being strict, but with his video descriptions of each incident. If teams and fans get the straight dope on why a suspension is what it is, that’s all we can really ask.
It remains to be seen if Steven Stamkos or Alex Ovechkin were to drill a player with a dangerous head shot, but so far, it’s hard to argue with Shanahan’s methods.
As for the Wild and their preseason home game tonight against the Blues, you’ll see most of the regulars out on the ice tonight. Matt Cullen, who was hit headfirst into the boards on Saturday by Pittsburgh’s Eric Tangradi, will sit out as a precaution. Casey Wellman will take his spot. Staubitz will be replaced on the fourth line by Brett Bulmer, who is still vying for a spot on the roster.
On defense, Jared Spurgeon is dealing with a bruised rib, and Mike Lundin continues to suffer from back spasms. Justin Falk and Marco Scandella will take their spots in the lineup. Nick Schultz will make his preseason debut tonight.
Niklas Backstrom gets the start in goal. Josh Harding likely starts on Thursday in Columbus and Backstrom would get the preseason finale on Friday against Edmonton.
Meanwhile, all the players the Wild put on waivers on Sunday have cleared, meaning they’ll report to Houston Aeros camp. That includes Warren Peters, Jed Ortmeyer, Jon DiSalvatore, Jeff Taffe, Jeff Penner and Dennis Endras.
And finally, Wild prospect and Denver University sophomore Jason Zucker was picked as the preseason WCHA player of the year in the 94X media poll, released today. Zucker’s team, Denver, was picked to finish first in the League, which you may know is also the home of the defending national champs in Duluth.