No one walks the clean hit/dirty hit tightrope like Niklas Kronwall.
There are several montages on YouTube of Kronwall Kronwalling opponents. Some of them are hard but clean hits. Others are, well, questionable at best and there’s another one to add to that column from Saturday night.
With the Detroit Red Wings up 2-0 in the first period, Kronwall lined up Anders Lee of the New York Islanders, who was picking up a loose puck on along the boards in the neutral zone. Like many of Kronwall’s hits, it was a devastating thump.
Here’s the hit:
Lee’s head appears to be the principal point of contact and he was forced to leave the game.
UPDATE: Lee did not come out to start the second period but returned later in the frame
The comments section is going to be full of, ‘Lee needs to keep his head up.’
That is true. The player has a responsibility to protect himself.
But what is also true is this: Just because a guy’s head is down doesn’t mean there’s free rein to pulverize his brain.
Kronwall had some time to change how he was going to hit Lee, either the angle or the magnitude of the force of it.
Lee leads the Islanders with 11 goals and is tied with Josh Bailey for the most points with 22.
Time will tell, but you have to imagine that George Parros and the Department of Player Safety will give this one a long look.