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 CliffordThis video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!