Tag: boarding

Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart

Paging Mr. Shanahan: Kronwall gets Kronwall’d


There was an ugly scene in St. Louis tonight as Blues forward Chris Stewart shoved Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall into the boards in the middle of the first period. It was one of those hits that Stewart could have called from the locker room and just said something like, “Hi Brendan, take a look at your schedule and let me know when we should schedule my hearing.”

The bodycheck was one of those hits that seemingly covered everything that the league is trying to get out of the league. It was a shove from directly behind when Kronwall was in a vulnerable place on the ice. The defenseman lost his balance after the shove, went head-first into the boards, and lay motionless on the ice as his teammates went after Stewart for the hit. After the Wings’ medical staff attended to Kronwall on the ice, they had to help him off the playing surface and into the locker room.

Meanwhile, Stewart was given a five-minute major for checking from behind and a game misconduct. If we were betting men here at PHT (no comment), we’d say the in-game penalties are the least of Stewart’s worries.

Take a look at the shot and let us know what you think? There’s no question that it’s a dirty hit in a dangerous place on the ice—is it suspension worthy? If you were wielding the Shanahammer, how many games would you give Stewart?

Video: Mike Milbury and Keith Jones debate Mats Zuccarello hit and suspensions

Sweden Hockey NY Rangers LA Kings

For fans watching the Los Angeles Kings vs. New York Rangers game from Stockholm this afternoon on Versus, they were treated to a good old fashioned debate regarding dangerous hits and the growing number of suspensions around the league. Analysts Mike Milbury and Keith Jones took a look at a questionable hit by Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello in the first period during the Kings’ OT win—a hit that will probably be looked at by Brendan Shanahan and the league offices. Needless to say, the two former players have vastly different interpretations of the play in question and the penalty that is warranted.

One on side of the argument, there’s the players’ safety and the NHL’s efforts to remove this type of hit from the game. Time and time again, they’ve explained that hits in dangerous parts of the ice will be penalized—whether the contact between players was violent or not. In the league’s eyes, the contact with the boards is more important in these situations; the onus is on the offending player to avoid contact when the opponent is in a dangerous position.

On the other hand, there are some old-school hockey people around North America who are fearful that this stance is a slippery slope for the league to take. Their fear is that eventually players will be forced to avoid hits in all situations all over the ice—leading to a game without hitting. Anyone who has seen the all-star game will tell you that a game without hitting simply isn’t the same product.

Check out the video and let us know what you think in the comments. Do you agree that the league is on the right track and hits like Mats Zuccarello are suspendable offenses? Or do you think that Zuccarello’s hit is simply a part of hockey severe punishment could permanently damage the game?

Update (7:15 EST): League fined Zuccarello $2,500 for his push to the back of Kyle Clifford

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Videos: How Taylor Fedun was injured, Matt Cooke’s center ice goal

Josh Green, Ray Emery
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Generally speaking, there are three categories of events that people actually remember from mostly irrelevant preseason games.

1. Something terrible happens to a player, causing a lengthy injury. Obviously, these still “count” even if the games don’t.

2. A player accomplishes an astounding feat, like a highlight reel goal or a breathtaking save. One can widen this category to generally include players who have an over-their-head or beyond-expectations preseason. (Sergei Bobrovsky could be a good example of that in last year’s exhibition period.)

3. Someone gets humiliated by an especially bad gaffe.

While there were likely instances of situation two in last night’s action – some might even say that Edmonton Oilers defenseman Taylor Fedun was climbing up the team’s charts with an “eye opening” training camp – my guess is that number 1 and 3 were in play on Friday night.

We’ve already discussed the first one last night, as a horrible accident happened between Minnesota Wild player Eric Nystrom and Fedun. Here’s video of the unfortunate incident.

From that very limited angle, it’s hard for me to accuse Nystrom of malice. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, though; does he deserve a long suspension for it? One respected outlet thinks the answer is an emphatic “Yes.” Here’s an excerpt from Derek Zona of Copper & Blue’s take.

In Mitchell’s case he had a clear path to the puck and Foster veered in front of him putting Mitchell in a precarious position.  Mitchell’s instincts caused him to take the worst possible tack – he shoved Foster in the back and into the boards.  It was a penalty, but it was also a sequence that occurred in a bang-bang fashion.

In Fedun’s case, he was in front of Nystrom the entire time and Nystrom made what looked to me like a premeditated attempt to board Fedun.  Every hockey player knows the end result of that play, Nystrom chose to ignore it.  The debate on no-touch icing is already under way, though I don’t believe this play should be used as evidence for either side of the debate.  This should, however, further the debate on dirty play, suspensions and eliminating this kind of play and these types of players from hockey.

Again, my instinct is to say it was terrible mistake since Nystrom seemingly tried to play the puck, but there are many ways to look at that. Let us know how you feel.


Moving on to number 3, here’s a bit of comic relief – unless your name is Ray Emery. Matt Cooke took advantage of Emery, who was way out of his crease playing a puck that landed perfectly to him. Cooke quickly sent a shot that went past Emery and beat Brent Seabrook five-hole. (They just don’t teach defenseman a solid butterfly technique, do they?)

Yup, that’s gonna smart. Seabrook almost bailed Emery out, but it was not to be.

NHL provides video explanations for two hits-related rule changes

Edmonton Oilers v St. Louis Blues

Earlier this summer, the NHL’s Board of Governors decided to make further tweaks to its rules regarding penalty and suspension-worthy hits in the hopes of reducing ugly checks and the troubling injuries that come with them. The meeting resulted in wording changes for Rules 41 (boarding) and 48 (illegal check to the head).

The changes to Rule 41 should make it easier for referees to make calls regarding boarding penalties. It now penalizes players who fail to avoid or minimize contact with a defenseless opponent along the boards. On the other hand, it also gives referees discretion if they believe the victim put himself into a vulnerable position in the last moment before a hit, making the conclusion unavoidable. (Referees will also make judgment calls about the severity of the impact.)

Rule 48 has been simplified with a significant deleted phrase. A hit will now be illegal if the head is the “principal point of contact” without the exception of a “blindside or lateral hit.” Debating the suspension-worthiness of a check last season often seemed like splitting hairs because of the “blindside or lateral hit” provision, so this should make things much clearer. Much like the boarding alteration, there is some leeway given to hitters if the recipient moved into that position at an inopportune moment.

While the wording has been changed, any grammar school teacher will tell you that some people are better visual learners. For that reason, the NHL decided to provide video explanations of the two changed rules.

First, here’s the video for Rule 48.

Now let’s take a look at the boarding-related changes to Rule 41.

(Am I the only one who thinks that it’s still kind of weird to view Brendan Shanahan in the role of league disciplinarian – or as an NHL executive in general, really?)

On paper, these changes seem like strong steps in the right direction. The league is also looking into other measures to make the game safer, but many make a valid argument that it still comes down to the players cleaning up their acts. Steven Stamkos has been outspoken about this subject, which you can see in the video below.

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Whatever the case may be, the NHL needs to do what it can to minimize the odds for serious injuries. Using safer equipment and implementing more straightforward rules are two solid ways to move in the right direction, but the 2011-12 season will ultimately decide if Shanahan & Co. are on the correct course.

NHL BOG changes wording of Rules 41 and 48 to target questionable hits

Logan Couture, Ryane Clowe, Ben Eager
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The NHL Board of Governors voted on three important changes today. One involved officially approving the relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers franchise to Winnipeg. The two other major decisions revolved around changing the wording of rules in the hopes of giving referees and league disciplinarians (such as Brendan Shanahan) a better chance of policing questionable hits.

The BOG approved wording changes for Rule 41 (boarding) and Rule 48 (illegal hits to the head).

Before we provide you with the full rules, here is a basic summary of how each rule has been altered.

Rule 41 has been changed so that it penalizes players who fail to avoid or minimize contact with a defenseless opponent along the boards. NHL.com points out that it also gives referees some discretion to determine if the victim of a hit put himself into a vulnerable position just moments before the hit happened, making the conclusion unavoidable.

Rule 48 received essential deletions: a hit will be illegal if the head is the “principal point of contact” with the “blindside or lateral hit” phrases taken out of the description. This change will be welcomed by many who thought that the “blindside or lateral hit” language allowed disciplinarians too much leeway to let offending parties off without a penalty. Most of the gray area has been removed.

Anyway, here are the complete, changed rules via NHL.com.

New Wording of Rule 41 – Boarding

41.1 Boarding – A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously. The severity of the penalty, based upon the impact with the boards, shall be at the discretion of the Referee.

There is an enormous amount of judgment involved in the application of this rule by the referees. The onus is on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a defenseless position and if so, he must avoid or minimize contact. However, in determining whether such contact could have been avoided, the circumstances of the check, including whether the opponent put himself in vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the check or whether the check was unavoidable can be considered. This balance must be considered by the referees when applying this rule.

Any unnecessary contact with a player playing the puck on an obvious “icing” or “off-side” play which results in that player hitting or impacting the boards is “boarding” and must be penalized as such. In other instances where there is no contact with the boards, it should be treated as “charging.”

New Wording of Rule 48 – Illegal Check to the Head

48.1 Illegal Check To The Head – A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted. However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was unavoidable, can be considered.

48.2 Minor Penalty – For violation of this rule, a minor penalty shall be assessed.

48.3 Major Penalty – There is no provision for a major penalty for this rule.

48.4 Game Misconduct – There is no provision for a game misconduct for this rule.

48.5 Match Penalty – The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head.

If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion.