Much had been made this summer about Brendan Smith potentially making the Detroit Red Wings’ NHL roster after only one (injury-shortened) season in the AHL. He’s as highly touted a prospect the Wings have had in nearly a decade; coupled with the fact that there was a bit of turnover on the blue line, there might be a place for him in the bigs.
Things haven’t gone quite according to plan for young Mr. Smith — appearing to be over-thinking and underplaying. He’s seemed out-matched on most nights, and — despite the clear promise he’s shown — he’s not quite ready to make that jump and another season in Grand Rapids should do wonders for his game. Rest assured, he’ll be a Red Wing. Just not in October.
Things went from bad to worse on Wednesday night. At the 5:26 mark of the third period, with the game recently tied at three by Chicago’s Ben Smith, Brendan Smith laid an absolutely vicious hit to the head of his aforementioned Smith counterpart. Ben Smith laid on the ice for a few moments, and needed help getting to his feet and walking down the tunnel.
Smith, the Red Wing, was give a five minute major and a game misconduct for a hit that certainly caught the attention of new discipline czar Brendan Shanahan. Even though Shanahan is doing a fantastic job and has been as transparent as possible, it’s difficult to predict what kind of suspension Brendan Smith is in for — but one thing is for certain: there’s no way he’ll play for the Red Wings again anytime soon.
There are three exhibition games left, and nearly all of the suspensions handed out so far have been for the remainder of the pre-season (and a few egregious ones have earned a few regulation games in addition). Smith hadn’t played well enough to even be considered for a roster spot — and, frankly, may have played his way out of being the top call-up this season — and it’s fair to assume that the Wings would rather he stay in Grand Rapids, play big minutes, and prepare for a chance to be a regular a year from now. No sense in calling up a guy to be the 7th defenseman when a veteran like Doug Janik can fill that role.
So, Brendan Smith’s NHL career starts with a whimper — instead of the roar many of us were expecting. He’ll certainly be suspended for his hit and will be forced to serve supplemental discipline before even dressing for a regular season game in the big leagues.
Stay tuned for details.
Photo Credit: Justin K. Aller, Getty Images