Shortly after it was announced that Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith was suspended for his hit on Chicago Blackhawks forward Ben Smith, a video explaining the decision was released. Just as he has done with every other suspension, former Red Wing and current NHL senior vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan discussed why the hit Smith made was illegal, what rule it broke and why the suspension was made. Take a look:
Shanahan explained that Brendan Smith's hit was illegal because it violated rule 48.1. This is the illegal check to the head rule, which makes all hits where the head is targeted and is the principal point of contact illegal. Shanahan said that although Ben Smith did slightly change his path, the positioning of his head did not significantly change. Based on the rules, Brendan Smith was responsible for avoiding contact to Ben Smith's head, and because he didn't, he has been suspended.
For what it's worth, Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock thinks the suspension is "a little extreme," according to Craig Custance. I'm sure Smith feels that way as well considering he didn't intentionally target Ben Smith's head and even apologized to him.
The fact of the matter is in the NHL today, all of the responsibility is on the player delivering the hit to avoid contact with the head. Because Smith was unable to do that, it's not too surprising he received a suspension that will keep him out the final three preseason games and five regular season games.