The replays don't back that up.
According to Cole, he had Abdelkader lined up but Abdelkader moved at the last moment, exposing only his head to the check.
Those are Cole's words...and the replays back that up as it looks like Abdelkader tries to slide the puck by Cole and slip by him.
That should also be an important detail when discipline is applied. Which brings me back to my statement of the game being too fast to eliminate those types of hits, which is the goal by using suspensions against players who commit those hits. Players need to be aware of where they are on the ice. Abdelkader had his head down as he received a pass from behind in the neutral zone. He has to expect a hit there, like Shanny said. That's a suicide pass.
But whatever, I don't have a problem Cole being suspended as it was a hit to the head and that is the rule...I do have an issue with the number of games. Three seems excessive based on other suspensions this year for the same amount of games or less.
And until there is the same standard for suspensions on star players as there is for lesser known players, the system is severely flawed. The fact it was Datsyuk (annual Lady Byng candidate and superstar player) that threw the hit had a lot to do with him not getting a penalty and not getting a suspension. If Jackman hits Datsyuk like that, he gets a penalty and probably suspended.
And don't tell me that an elbow or shoulder to the head is ok as long as you get the body too. That's simply not the case. If the head targeted and the principal point of contact, it doesn't matter if contact with the body is made. Datsyuk lunged up into Jackman's face, hitting his head with his shoulder. I fail to see how Jackman's head wasn't targeted on that play. The Detroit announcers even said he threw a shoulder to his head.
He had his head down, but picks up Cole at the last second as he tries to slide the puck by Cole and slip by him. That's how it looks to me.
If not, what was he trying to do with the puck if he never saw Cole?
In Shanny's explanation he clearly says and shows on the replay that Abby's body and head didn't make any significant change in direction or speed just before the hit. Cole may not have had the opportunity to see the replay before he spoke and at the speed at which it happens I can't expect him to know exactly how it played out. You're also omitting the part where Shanny says a player has to expect a good hard body check. Then goes on to say they should not have to expect a deliberate a reckless blow to the head.
With the direction Cole is moving, it's the textbook hit the league is trying to remove. If you're going to try a risky hit like that, the responsibility is on the player making the hit to contact the body.
I think the suspension was a little long given Shanny's current standard (at the beginning of the season this would've been in line), but his explanation as to why Cole was suspended is pretty clear.
As for a shoulder to the head being okay as long as you get the body, actually, that is the case, especially on north-south hits. The head can't just be targeted or the principal point of contact.
NHL rules video on illegal checks to the head
About 2:53 into the video when they start talking about legal hits, they specifically show a legal shoulder check to the head. In the video shown it looks like the elbow contacts the head as well, but it's tucked and the player's head was down, much like Datsyuk's hit, which is why it was legal.
Datsyuk's hit looked worse than it was because his shoulder did contact Jackman's head, and then Jackman acted like a little ***** about it.