Andrew Shaw is an emotional hockey player, and that’s exactly how he was advertised. No one likes to lose, especially not on the biggest stage in the NHL. However when he was acquired over the summer the biggest concern wasn’t his on ice ability, it was whether or not would he be able to keep his emotions in check.
So far this year he has struggled to do so, including a few incidents that cost his team a chance at a win. There is nothing wrong with showing emotion out on the ice, in fact it’s something that’s a welcomed change in a world of stoic athletes trying to not upset the masses. However, celebrating a goal is one thing, losing your mind and destroying a stick over a penalty call is not.
Shaw was thrown out of the game following his outburst on the way to the bench, which included punching the stick rack due to the penalty call. The stick rack ended up falling on one of the equipment managers.
Andrew Shaw has a longstanding rivalry with this stick rack. pic.twitter.com/2IUvt1ZZay— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) November 30, 2016
Even after missing an extended period of games due to a concussion, Shaw returned and immediately laid a hit that drew the ire of fans around the league.
Why Shaw felt the need to throw a hit of this nature is anyone’s guess. Jesper Fast didn’t have the puck. It was late, and dangerous. Yet after a 15 game absence for a brain injury, Shaw threw this hit and then engaged in a fight with J.T. Miller.
It’s not his only questionable hit of the year, in the preseason he was suspended for boarding Connor Hobbs of the Washington Capitals. Immediately upon returning from that suspension, he was assessed a match penalty in a 4-1 win over Buffalo for slew footing Johan Larsson.
In the games between the slew footing incident and his concussion, Shaw played very well for the Habs: creating chances around the net as well as frustrating opponents without going over the line. Yet since his return he’s been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.
Last week, with his team trailing 2-1 late in the third period, Shaw took a poorly timed interference penalty.
Shaw's sticks have been taking a real beating lately. pic.twitter.com/IJHlN3qk2c— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) January 27, 2017
As you can see, his reaction is extremely poor. It was an obvious penalty call, not even close to one requiring this sort of tantrum. While he was yelling at the official his own player in Carey Price had to skate over and seemingly tell him to calm down. What resulted from the penalty was Josh Bailey putting the Islanders up 3-1, and sealing the Habs defeat.
Following the All-Star break a new trend emerged, Shaw taking extremely ill-timed penalties at crucial points of the game.
Against Philadelphia, in a game the Habs were leading, Shaw demonstrated his indiscipline yet again. He tripped up Nick Cousins, sending the Flyers to the power play, where Claude Giroux scored and once again cost the Canadiens the game. Even Michel Therrien, who has avoided criticizing Shaw’s lack of control in the past, was not happy with the his forward’s poor decision. He benched Shaw for the remainder of the third period.
Habs' Shaw goes fishing, hooks a Cousins. pic.twitter.com/rxKmSWZuzG— Scouting The Refs (@ScoutingTheRefs) February 3, 2017
Unfortunately that message seems to have not stuck, as against the Edmonton Oilers, the undisciplined Shaw returned.
Here's the Shaw/McDavid incident early in the first. pic.twitter.com/YdbuUL628m— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) February 5, 2017
While there was no penalty called, this looks like an attempted slew foot on Connor McDavid. You can see Shaw tuck his skate behind McDavid’s foot and use his free arm to try and push him backwards in a extremely dangerous manner. This play has no purpose in the game, and deserves to be criticized each and every time. It’s dangerous. It’s also worth noting that during the game versus the Oilers, Shaw took yet another poorly timed penalty, midway through the third period.
In just 40 games Shaw has set a career high in penalty minutes with 88, which is simply unacceptable for a player who is expected to be a contributor on offence every night. Being a detriment to your team’s production because of ill-timed penalties isn’t going to make that contract any easier to stomach.
Again, playing with emotion is fine, but with a six-year deal paying nearly $4 million a season, Shaw has to learn to funnel that frustration into a positive element for the Habs. Alexander Radulov isn’t getting thrown out of games, or smashing sticks, and he’s easily the most energetic player on the ice. His lack of discipline is also a little easier to accept when you take a look at his offensive production. Shaw needs to be an important player for the Habs, but his outbursts and ill timed tantrums make it difficult, especially when he’s counted on to live up to his massive contract, but spends a lot of his time sitting in the sin bin during crucial points of various games.