Did Mike Cammalleri have just cause to go after Nino Niederreiter?

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Cammalleri1.jpgLast night we told you about Mike Cammalleri’s bad night in Quebec City where he seemingly went bonkers going after Islanders rookie Nino Niederreiter and ultimately slashing him in the ankle. Cammalleri was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the action and Niederreiter left the game with a bruised ankle. Cammalleri isn’t exactly a goon out on the ice so what would make him lose his cool with the 18 year-old youngster? Perhaps it was a hit that might be the first to challenge the NHL’s new blindside hit rule.

Video has popped up showing Niederreiter hitting Cammalleri shoulder-to-shoulder from a point of view for Cammalleri that comes from out of nowhere. You can check out the video from YouTube here. Stu Hackel of Habs Inside/Out thinks that Niederreiter’s hit could help Cammalleri’s case with the NHL.

Looking at the video, a case can be made that contact was shoulder to shoulder from behind. A case can also be made that the head was targeted, even though it wasn’t the principal point of contact.

But even if Colin Campbell and his staff decide Niederreiter did target Cammalleri’s head, the retaliation may still cause some sort of disciplinary action, although it might be softened if the league decides Cammalleri had some justification for his reaction.

Ahh yes, the ever popular Wheel of Justice may get fired up for everyone involved in this. Niederreiter might get dinged for being the first to face the new blindside hit rule while Cammalleri could get sat down by the league for invoking the spirit of “Slap Shot” while going ape on Niederreiter.

For us, Niederreiter’s hit doesn’t qualify as the kind that allows you to go after another player the way Cammalleri did. It’s not that egregious of a play and while you can’t get into a player’s head to guess what their intent was, Niederreiter didn’t appear to be gunning for Cammalleri’s head. Punishing players for playing hockey isn’t something we’re very supportive of. Of course, trying to guess what Colin Campbell may or may not do in regard to punishment is a game that we’re not going to play either, especially if a new rule comes into play.

That said, there’s no justifying Cammalleri swinging his stick towards Niederreiter’s head and face and there’s no excusing him taking a swipe at his ankle. That kind of rogue action should not be tolerated.