The Big Question will be a weekly feature on PHT where we ask a question, provide some background and ask you, the reader, to weigh in with your opinions.
Today’s question: Is it officially open season on goalies?
The NHL chose not to suspend Boston forward Milan Lucic for colliding with Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller. League disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan ruled that the two-minute minor Lucic received was appropriate, even though the Sabres say Miller suffered a concussion on the play.
Count Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff among those who thought Lucic should’ve been punished further.
“If he isn’t suspended, it just means teams will be able to do exactly what Lucic did,” Ruff said. “Their goaltender can play the puck, we can run him over. We can hurt him and all you get is a two-minute minor penalty. That’s essentially what that means. You can concuss the other team’s goaltender. You can run him going at whatever speed he was going. He made no attempt to get out of the way. It means it’s fair game on goaltenders.”
Reigning Art Ross Trophy winner Daniel Sedin agreed with Ruff’s take, saying, “Goalies are going to be a target if you allow those kind of [Lucic] hits. You have to protect them or it’s going to be ugly.”
Of course, the reason Lucic wasn’t suspended is that no intent could be proven. At least, that’s what Shanahan led us to believe in his ruling. If there’d been intent, there’d have been supplementary discipline.
So has anything really changed? You still can’t intentionally run the goalie. But if you do, you have to make it look like an accident. Which has been going on forever.
Perhaps the onus officially falls on the players now. Don’t want your goalie abused? Make sure there’s a price exacted from the perpetrator. Like Vancouver forward Alex Burrows says: “It might be back to old-time hockey. The next thing you know, you might have a line brawl or a bench clearing.”
So what do you think? Did the NHL just tacitly endorse running the goalie as an effective strategy?