Avalanche rookie Gabriel Landeskog talked to the media after Avs practice this morning and answered some questions about the suspension-worthy hit he took from Edmonton defenseman Andy Sutton. Instead of blasting Sutton for delivering a dangerous hit to his face, Landeskog chose to take the high road and took some of the responsibility for the hit.
Word around the league before the draft was that Landeskog was the most mature guy in the draft and had the potential to be one of the best leaders in the league. Now we see what they were talking about. It would have been easy to say something along the lines of “those are the type of hits we are trying to get out of the game,” because they are the type of hits that have no place in the game. Instead, he talked about how he should have been more aware about his place on the ice.
Note that he never said that Sutton shouldn’t be punished—he said that suspensions were up to other people to decide. He simply said that he should have been more aware of where he was at on the ice. In a way, he’s right. Players have always been taught to be aware of all players on the ice to avoid any physical punishment. Yet still, it doesn’t change the fact that the onus is now on the offending player to make sure the principle point of contact isn’t the head. If Sutton destroyed Landeskog with a clean body check, it would have been 100% on the Avs rookie for not protecting himself. The problem wasn’t that Sutton hit Landeskog with a hard it—it was that he hit him in the head.
Regardless, it’s nice to see a young player have some accountability for any actions on the ice (even if wasn’t his fault). If this is what he’s like at 18, we can only wonder the wisdom he’ll show later this month when he turns 19.