Brendan Shanahan works on weekends too.
We'll let Shanny take it from here.
This ruling is all about the hit, so the three-game punishment makes it pretty clear Shanahan didn't like it one bit. He describes the play being in clear violation of the boarding rule, highlighting the part about pushing a player from behind.
The things that Shanahan really accentuates about the hit are the factors of how far from the boards that Ference pushed McDonagh on the play and how there was plenty of time for Ference to read the situation and react differently.
The other two factors that Shanny considers -- injuries on the play and previous discipline -- are non-factors here. McDonagh doesn't appear to have suffered an injury on the hit and Ference's only discipline history in his 12-year career is a fine for a foul gesture (remember this one in the playoffs last season?)
My take: Three games is fair. The precedent for such hits falls in line here. If anything, I thought maybe two games considering factors two and three, but if the league wants to get these messages across they will have to continue to hand out stiff punishments.