The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/22/12 at 08:48 PM ET
Very, very belatedly: good news on two fronts regarding Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg’s accidental hit on Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Nikita Nikitin. The hit was very similar to the ones that broke the ankles of former Wing Jason Williams and current Wings forward Jan Mursak, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports that Nikitin will be okay...
GM Scott Howson told The Dispatch today that Nikitin will not play in the final two games before the NHL’s All-Star Game break, and will be evaluated again after the break. But it does not appear to be a significant injury.
This is very good news for the Blue Jackets and Nikitin, obviously, and more than a little surprising. Nikitin slammed feet-first into the end boards after toppling backward at high speed just above the goal line. All of his weight was absorbed by his left leg, his left ankle crumpling badly before a thunderous boom.
And more importantly for Red Wings fans, Paul asked TSN’s Darren Dreger whether Zetterberg would receive a call from Brendan Shanahan, and Paul received a no on that front, with the 5-minute major and game misconduct having been assessed to Zetterberg serving as more than enough punishment under the NHL’s policy of more heavily policing hits near the end boards. MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms..
Detroit Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg will not be suspended by the NHL for the push to the back that injured Columbus defenseman Nikita Nikitin, general manager Ken Holland said on Sunday.
As does the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness:
Henrik Zetterberg knew the league would look further into his hit on Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Nikita Nikitin midway through the third period Saturday night. And upon further review, Zetterberg won’t face any extra discipline, according to Wings general manager Ken Holland. The league ruled that there was no intended shove on Zetterberg’s part.
“(Brandon Shanahan) and the league are going to review this and see what they feel,” Zetterberg said after the game. “The rule is the rule, I made contact and he went down. Hopefully he’s OK, I didn’t mean to hurt him and we’ll have to wait and see.”
Zetterberg raced into the corner in the Blue Jackets’ zone with Nikitin a stride in front of him. As Nikitin slowed he began to get off balance. Zetterberg placed his hand on the Columbus defenseman’s back and he crashed hard into the boards, twisting his left ankle under him.
“There wasn’t (anything malicious), but still that’s the way they’re calling it,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They’re trying to protect the D-men. I talked to (referee) Denny LaRue right away. I just said, ‘Denny, is that the way you’re calling it?’ and he said that’s the way. So why wouldn’t they (call it)? We’re trying to protect the players. It was an unfortunate play. I hope the guy’s not hurt.”
That’s just the way it is, and thankfully for both Blue Jackets and Red Wings fans, neither party sustained a major blow due to the hit. That’s a big relief.
WXYZ’s Brad Galli also confirms.
The NHL did not suspend Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg for his push Saturday to the back of Columbus forward Nikita Nikitin.
Zetterberg received a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct. Nikitin injured his knee on the play and is expected to miss at least two games.
But former Red Wing Brendan Shanahan, NHL vice president of hockey operations, felt there was no intent to injure on the play, as both players were pursuing the puck to the end boards.
“I had my hand on his back,” Zetterberg said after the game. “I don’t think I pushed him hard. It looked bad. It looks really bad, so I can’t blame the referee to give me five minutes.”
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.