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?
Calgary’s Curtis Glencross has avoided the watchful, yet inconsistent, eye of the NHL and Colin Campbell and was fined $2500 for his major boarding penalty against Minnesota’s Clayton Stoner. Glencross’ penalty came when Stoner stopped short of the boards and Glencross shoved him from behind putting Stoner in a dangerous position. Stoner wasn’t injured on the play and Glencross got to sit down for five minutes for his transgression.
Even though Glencross has a prior history of suspensions for dangerous incidents, Campbell and the NHL felt that this incident didn’t demand more action other than a fine. Minnesota fans, however, feel a bit more strongly about things considering their guy was the victim of Glencross’ questionable hit. Bryan Reynolds of Hockey Wilderness took the time out to sound off about things.
I called it last night on Twitter, saying that since Stoner was not hurt, the NHL would simply pretend it never happened. Repeat offender, violent play, dirty hit from behind, driving Stoner head first into the boards? Why would you possibly want to suspend him for that? After all, Glencross was likely just “playing with passion,” right Coli?
There’s no doubt that Glencross was guilty of a bad play here and we’ve seen other players get sat down for similar incidents, including Washington’s Alex Ovechkin who committed a similar offense against Chicago’s Brian Campbell. Once again, the league’s murky manner of handing out supplementary punishment comes into play here. The league could save themselves a lot of headaches by being more open about their reasoning behind their decisions and set a bar for how they’ll rule on things.
Of course, we’ve shouted about this for a long time now only to see absolutely nothing done about it, so asking for change to happen now is just beating a dead horse.
Nick Foligno fined, but not suspended, for hit to head on Patrick Dwyer; Did NHL make the right choice?
Perhaps I’m still a bit stuck in last year’s murky suspension realm, as it’s hard to say what should be a hit that’s over the line. The problem in making these determinations, for me at least, comes when a defending player makes a “hockey play” at full speed. It’s the same dilemma that the NFL faces when it comes to corner backs or safeties lighting up a prone wide receiver; there’s a certain level of responsibility a player has to protect himself, but you still need to penalize dangerous hits.
In other words, I think the NHL is doing a better job so far this season when it comes to legislating hits. (As far as behavioral stuff such as James Wisniewski getting a two-game suspension vs. Sean Avery getting a six-game suspension for the same general juvenile antics? Well, that I’m not so sure about.)
The league passed along news that Ottawa Senators forward Nick Foligno will not face a suspension for his open-ice hit on Carolina Hurricanes skater Patrick Dwyer. Instead, the NHL fined Foligno $2,500 for the hit and gave this explanation for their verdict.
“While there was no injury as a result of the hit, it is clear that Foligno delivered a shoulder check from the blind side that made primary contact with Dwyer’s head,” said NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell. “It is also clear that Foligno was delivering the hit in an attempt to get the puck. Finally, in determining that a fine was the appropriate discipline for this incident, I took into account that Foligno has not been suspended previously by the League.”
I’ve said this before and I’ll probably echo the point several times this season, but I’ve never been a fan of punishing hits or altercations based on the severity of injuries since that’s such a random thing. If a hit is a dirty or suspension-worthy hit, then it should carry a suspension whether the victim is in a hospital bed or scoring goals the next period.
I do agree that Foligno was attempting to get the puck, which is why this check is in that difficult gray area. He should get some kind of punishment since it is the type of hit that the league is trying to get rid of, but how do you walk the tight rope between making things reasonably safe and removing the physicality (and violence) that is inherent to playing defense in this sport? It’s a tough call, but these decisions will set a precedent for the rest of the season.
But enough of what I think about the hit, how do you feel? Should he have been suspended, fined or left alone altogether? Vote in the poll below.