Calling it his "most challenging" decision so far in his tenure as the NHL's chief disciplinarian, Brendan Shanahan has decided not to suspend Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Malone for his hit on the Montreal Canadiens' Chris Campoli, the league announced Monday.
Shanahan said the decision not to suspend Malone for making contact with Campoli's head in Friday's preseason game in Quebec City was his "most difficult to date."
In reaching the decision, Shanahan determined that Campoli's head position changed and became the main point of contact for the check.
"In the end, we felt that Malone had committed to the hit when Campoli was upright. However, when the contact was made, Campoli's head position significantly changed just prior to the hit," Shanahan said in a prepared statement.
"There are elements about the hit that we don't like -- specifically, the principal point of contact being the head and that it was not a full-body check," Shanahan said. "But the overriding factor in our judgment was that Campoli's loss of the puck and subsequent bending forward for it just prior contributed significantly, if not entirely, to those elements."
To date, Shanahan has suspended nine players for a collective 31 regular-season games, with many of the suspensions handed to players for violating league rules outlawing hits to the head.