Kukla's Korner

On Downie and Kunitz: Sentences For Each? (Your Guess is as Good as Any)

Quick thoughts on both questionable hits from last night’s Pens/Bolts game three:

First, on Steve Downie’s apparent charge on Ben Lovejoy, which would have been called a penalty, had Max Talbot not scored just moments later.

At first glance (which for me came via the tail-end of a bad replay, having missed the play when it happened because I was on the phone with TSN Radio) I thought Downie appeared to leave his feet only after the initial point of contact. Later, having seen the replay again in much more clarity, the penalty that Downie would have been assessed certainly would have been just. By definition, that was a charge.

I wonder, then, if he might come out of today’s hearing with a fine, maybe, but no suspension? A penalty was being assessed. That said call was wiped out because of a goal should have no bearing on that fact. Lovejoy wasn’t injured on the play, something that is often taken into consideration on supplemental discipline decisions these days (though whether that should happen or not is a subject up for much debate).

Naturally, Downie’s status as a repeat offender could come into play and, if he does get suspended, the guess here is that would definitely be a contributing factor. [Edit: Downie hasn’t been in hot water with the league since March 16, 2010 when he was fined $1,000 for an attempt to injure Sidney Crosby. Not sure if that fine counts as part of the 18-month window a player must stay clean within to avoid said repeat offender status or if that only pertains to suspensions. Will research…]

I also wondered, momentarily, if the hit is a suspendable offense in nature, though Colin Campbell’s words regarding why Vancouver’s Raffi Torres was not suspended for his recent hit on Chicago’s Brent Seabrook leave me with all the resolution I need to quickly answer than question:

“This hit meets none of the criteria that would subject Torres to supplemental discipline, including an application of Rule 48: he did not charge his opponent or leave his feet to deliver this check.”

Well, Downie did charge his opponent and he did leave his feet to deliver the check. Ergo, my guess is Downie gets two games. One for the foul itself and an additional game as a repeat offender.

As for Chris Kunitz’s shot on Simon Gagne, that one is pretty clear-cut, to me. In both video replays and still shot images that I have seen, there is no doubting the fact that Kunitz extends his elbow and makes direct contact with Gagne’s head – two things we’re consistently told lately that the league is trying to avoid, all in one play.

This was awfully reminiscent of Tampa Bay’s Pavel Kubina elbowing Chicago’s David Bolland in March, for which he received a three-game suspension. Bolland was hurt, Gagne was not, that was the regular season and this is the playoffs.

But does any of that come into play? Tough call.

We’ll go for broke here and guess two games for Kunitz as well. Had Gagne been hurt, this one may have been lengthy.

Of course, guessing is all we can do in these cases, as no one knows where the old wheel o’ justice will land. No matter how it shakes out, one side or the other will surely be up in arms.

Your thoughts, folks?

JJ on Twitter

Filed in: Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink


John W.'s avatar

Who knows what’s going to happen, but the NHL is responisble for the crap that went on in that game.  They let everyone know it’s ok to try to kill people behind the net, and it’s pretty obvious the players were listening.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 04/19/11 at 01:38 PM ET

Flashtastick56's avatar

Kunitz will get a couple.  He has to.  That was dumb, dumb, dumb.

Downie?  Man, that’s tough.  He definitely left his feet, and it might have been a charge…but I don’t think he hit him in the head, at least that’s not where the initial point of contact was. 

Even Lovejoy said it was a good, hard hit.  So unless they’re going to discipline him for leaving his feet - is there any precedent for that? - I don’t think he’ll get anything.

But, like John W. said above there, who knows?

Posted by Flashtastick56 from Meriden, CT on 04/19/11 at 01:44 PM ET


I assume Kunitz gets 1 to 2 games. That one’s pretty cut and dry.

The Downie thing is a crapshoot. The two hits this most-resembles are Torres hit on Seabrook (no suspension) and Downey’s hit on McCammond (20+ games), so he’s looking at anywhere from nothing to one more game than the last time (call it the Gillies treatment). Campbell created a minefield with the Torres non-suspension. If I’m Downey, I’m completely confused as to what I need to do to stay within the rules. Looked like he left his feet, but missed Lovejoy’s jaw. Isn’t the second thing more important?

Posted by steviesteve on 04/19/11 at 02:31 PM ET

Jon Jordan's avatar

Completely confused as to what I need to do to stay within the rules…”

I think this describes the thoughts of every player in the National Hockey League right about now…


Posted by Jon Jordan from Tampa, FL on 04/19/11 at 02:37 PM ET

hockeychic's avatar

I have no idea. 

As steviesteve said above - Downie could be looking at anywhere from one to twenty five games.  I do think his “repeat offender” status is going to weigh on the decision.

Kunitz - I would think two games but then who knows with the NHL these days.

Posted by hockeychic from Denver, CO on 04/19/11 at 03:36 PM ET

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