Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 04/07/14 at 01:18 AM ET
George here on the late shift. Regrettably, the NHL has gotten to the point where my job tends to involve scouring the internet for the night's controversial hit.
I sure wish players respected each other more, but as so many have pointed out, they're not coached to let up on hits or take responsibility for intent-to-injure plays--nor do "tough" players have any trouble whatsoever being signed by general managers who are looking for "toughness" at the expense of basic respect.
This evening, I saw a TSN video with the title, "How many games will the NHL suspend Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo for his hit on Sabres defenceman Chad Ruhwedel on Sunday? Dave Reid weighs in" and I could only shake my head.
Just like Radko Gudas' hit on Saturday USA Today's Mike Brehm reports that Gudas escaped supplemental discipline), we've got another case of someone leading with their elbow/forearm and targeting a player's head, but this is much more vicious, and as the game aired on NBCSN, Pro Hockey Talk's Ryan Dadoun posted a video of the incident (the nasty part starts at the 40-second mark):
Yahoo Sports' Sean Leahy provides further context for the video...
The game was already in hand and Rinaldo was given a five-minute match penalty, attempt to injure for the head hit and the Sabres would ruin Steve Mason's shutout on the ensuing power play. The Flyers would hang on for a 5-2 victory. Ruhwedal left the game and did not return.
Rinaldo had himself quite the night. Along with the match penalty, he had already picked up three minors and scored Philadelphia's second goal of the game. Missed out on the hat trick after failing to record an assist.
It's been over two years since the NHL Department of Player Safety has fined or suspended Rinaldo, but this one is a lay-up for Brendan Shanahan and his crew.
And the Buffalo News's Mike Harrington reports that the Sabres lost both Ruhwedal and Christian Ehrhoff, who posted a rather graphic Twitter photo (you've been warned) of an ear split in two after taking a slapshot directly to the ear earlier during the game:
Ruhwedel was low to the ice trying to unleash a shot when Rinaldo, although keeping his elbow tight to his body, leapt directly into Ruhwedel’s head. Ruhwedel went down with his hands on his helmet and then slowly skated directly to the Buffalo dressing room.
“That’s dirty. Period,” said Sabres defenseman Mike Weber. “I don’t know how many times you can get in trouble for stuff like that in your career. Hopefully he learns this time.Teams need energy players like that but there’s a certain line you can’t cross and it seems like he’s crossing it 2-3 times a year.”
[Buffalo Sabres coach Ted] Nolan was quick to announce Ruhwedel’s concussion, which will certainly play into the NHL’s decision.
“Those are the type of hits that we have to get rid of,” Nolan said. “Those are not only dangerous hits but you’re also putting a fellow player in jeopardy of his career. Head injuries, concussions, we all know how serious they are and we still have guys with flying elbows going directly to the head.”
Rinaldo seemed pretty repentant afterward, almost a first salvo to try to mitigate his suspension.
“I had a lot of speed going at him,” Rinaldo said. “Had my shoulder down and as I hit him, he shot the puck, and my shoulder hit his head, clearly … I shouldn’t have done it. We’re up, 4-0, and there was no need for it, but it is what it is.”
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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