Hawks veteran Sean O'Donnell wonders where respect among players has gone
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville showed up at the United Center on Thursday still angry about the nasty head shot rookie forward Ben Smith took from Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith in Wednesday's preseason game.
Quenneville reluctantly called Ben Smith day to day with a likely concussion but couldn't put a timetable on a possible return.
Brendan Smith had a hearing with NHL vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan on Thursday. A decision on possible suspension is expected Friday.
Ben Smith was 1-on-1 with Brendan Smith when the Detroit defenseman put his shoulder into the head of Ben Smith when it appeared the Hawks' rookie was going to beat him to the net.
"It's exactly the hit they're trying to get out of the game, that's the blow to the head, first part of contact," said Quenneville, who believes Brendan Smith could have approached the play differently.
"He could have hit him shoulder on shoulder, you try to poke (check), you try to do both," Quenneville said. "I still don't think 20 or 30 years ago you target the head in a situation like that. You try to hit the guy. You try to make contact, but it's hard when the first part of contact is the head.
"If the guy hits Bennie as hard as he can, I have no problem with that. But when it's the head that's the first part of contact, that's what we're trying to get out of the game."
Sean O'Donnell, the Hawks' old school defenseman who turns 40 in a few weeks, is worried players have lost respect for one another on the ice.
Already this preseason there have been multiple suspensions handed down by Shanahan for blows to the head and hits from behind.
Players such as Columbus defenseman James Wisniewski just don't seem to be getting the message. Wisniewski is a multiple offended who has been suspended for the first eight games of the regular season for a hit to the head of Minnesota's Cal Clutterbuck.
"With no obstruction and no hooking, guys are flying out there," O'Donnell said. "So many guys are big and fast now you're going to see this happen, I think. I don't know what to do about it other than guys having a little more respect for one another.
"It seemed like when I first broke in the league you would hit hard, but if a guy was in a vulnerable spot you would ease up on him. Now it seems like some of the guys, when guys are in a vulnerable spot, guys eye light up. I don't know where this mindset came from. Some of that is self respect for a fellow NHLer or human being. It doesn't seem to be there and I don't know why, but we do need to eliminate this because those brain injuries are scary things."
O'Donnell hopes Shanahan continues to come down hard in his rulings and believes that the players will get eventually get it.
"You have to send a message that this is different," O'Donnell said. "Until these things stop happening, when a guy like James Wisniewski, and I'm not pointing him out, but when he misses a half a million dollars, you start to think maybe I'm going to play a little bit differently."
Quenneville also believes the players will begin to change their ways if the suspensions stay severe.
"Instincts, sometimes in that split second, controlling that button is something I think the players will learn," Quenneville said. "For years we clutched and grabbed and we interfered, and all of sudden that was called and the players learned.
"Now there's an even more severe punishment than going in the box for two minutes and they'll quickly get it."