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Petshark: Talking Stick

Dumb and dumber, or what not to wear

There was some fuss after Brad Stuart's hit on Gabriel Landeskog during the Saturday game in San Jose.  There were two things about the fuss and the subsequent penalties that made me think "dumb, and dumber."

I am no expert on NHL hits, but Stuart's hit reminded me of a hit by Niklas Kronwall on Jakub Voracek in a game last season. There are probably better comparables out there, but it's one that was recent enough to fall under similar officiating and review standards.

Suffice to say, Landeskog came away from being hit in better shape than Voracek did.  Still, the Kronwall hit didn't result in a suspension, or even a penalty.  There was no reason to think the Stuart one would either.

Let's look at the two:

Stuart hit, January 26, 2013:

I would have used an Avalanche feed to avoid accusations of bias, but the Sharks feed had better angles on the hit.  Compare that to the Kronwall hit of March 6, 2012:

See, that's the kind of otherwise legal hit that should make people freak out and call for a review.  I don't mean Kronwall should have been penalized, but the raw violence of the hit begs a reaction.  Yes, Brad Stuart hit Gabriel Landeskog very hard, but it was dumb to think it would have been considered suspendable.

Landeskog can't be accused of not keeping his head up.  He saw it coming, he acknowledged as much afterwards.  He may not have seen it coming as far out as he could have, but he did see it and did brace himself.  So why in the world would Stuart be suspended?  He wouldn't be.  

Why did Ryan O'Byrne start a fight over it?  Oh, right, hockey players do that a lot of the time: big hits lead to fights.  Players aren't officials, they don't examine video replays before determining the proper response.

More relevant, why does the NHL have that stupid rule about initiating a fight while wearing a visor?  Maybe it's the anti-fighter in me, but it seems ridiculous to make fighters remove a visored helmet before fighting.  Players aren't required to remove visorless helmets, even if they are allowed to do so.  Why should a player who wants to be ready to fight have to risk greater injury than the inevitable head pounding sustained in a fight?  Why shouldn't he have eye protection during the rest of the game, or skull protection in case he goes down and hits his head on the ice?

Can't NHL players fight with visors on?  AHL and ECHL players do it.  Sena Acolatse of the Worcester Sharks has elevated body blows to an art,  and he can pummel the exposed areas of a visored face just fine.  If he can do it, why would his own visor pose such a problem for someone trying to hit him back?  Why do NHL players get additional penalties for starting a fight while wearing a visor?  It's even dumber than assuming that a hard hit must also be an illegal one. 

Don't get me wrong: I don't want anyone to get injured, especially not in his brain or his spine.  I'm less squeamish about extremities.  For this reason, I appreciate a good clean hit, one where a player controls the contact and minimizes harm, while still making a lasting impression on the target.  Both of the above hits began with contact to the head, they are not the kind of hit I like.  But to avoid the head contact, Kronwall and Stuart would have had to avoid the hit completely-- Voracek's and Landeskog's heads were ahead of their bodies, since they were trying to skate forwards in a hurry.  Still, neither hitter was sneaking up on his target.  In the gladiator code of conduct, and under NHL rules, they were fair.

Filed in: hockey, , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
  Tags: brad+stuart, colorado+avalanche, gabriel+landeskog, hit, hockey+fight, jakub+voracek, niklas+kronwall, penalty, suspension, visor

Comments

scotts0's avatar

That Kronwall hit is legendary and the Stuart hit isn’t far behind. When Kronwall and Stuart were D partners it was such a wonderful thing. But I digress…

Stuart shouldn’t be suspended for the hit, because it was clean. End of story. Same for Kronwall. But on the flipside, a player who attacks a player for a CLEAN check like this should be suspended for a couple games. I’m getting really tired of completely clean, crushing checks being followed up by some guy jumping the checker. You don’t want to get checked or see your linemate get checked, don’t play hockey. Period.

Posted by scotts0 from New York on 01/27/13 at 02:33 PM ET

petshark's avatar

Important correction to my post from Twitter:

@210Darryl: “@petshark47 You are misunderstanding the visor rule. The penalty is only for instigating a fight w/ visor if your opponent isn’t wearing one.”
and
@210Darryl: “@petshark47 If both players are wearing a visor it’s not a penalty. Not a penalty in minors as visors are mandatory & all players have them”

Thanks to @210Darryl.  I was misunderstanding it.

Posted by petshark from Nor Cal, and on Twitter @petshark47 on 01/27/13 at 03:08 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

It was a good hit but in my opinion nowhere near the voracek hit.  More like the Hemsky or Brier hit.  Voracek hit was epic.

Depending on the angle it looks like he hit him in the head, others it looks like he hit him high in the chest.  There’s been some talk of him leaving his feet as well but I didn’t see any intially and didn’t go back to see if it was one of those inertia-deals where you automatically raise up with a good impact or he lifted himself up to do more damage.

As far as fighting afterwards.  I don’t mind it.  Hits like that change the tempo of the game.  If a team feels for whatever reason it has to incur the penalties of retribution, so be it, that’s why they are there.  Shouldn’t be suspendable to fight a guy who just obliterated your Captain.  Just shouldn’t.  Sometimes you have to fight when you don’t want to either, just the way it goes.  If it’s really that unfair, the tough guy on your team oughtta handle it.  No need to bring in the Shannahammer for these kinds of things.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 01/27/13 at 03:57 PM ET

w2j2's avatar

Good hits, both.

None-the-less, I hate like hell to see guys get hit like this in the head.

If there is any way Stuart & Kronwall can take the body and avoid the head, they should do it.

Too many great players miss too much playing time due to concussions.

And the long-term brain injuries are terrible.

Posted by w2j2 on 01/27/13 at 06:26 PM ET

harken23's avatar

A player who goes after an opposing player merely because he’s just laid out a teammate with a clean, un-penalized hit should get an automatic instigator penalty.
I suppose they do for the most part, but it should be automatic.

Posted by harken23 on 01/27/13 at 09:56 PM ET

petshark's avatar

w2j2, I would second that wish.  I was hoping Douglas Murray would demonstrate another option last night, just for discussion purposes.  I’ve seen him do some serious contortions to avoid hitting a guy in the head.

Posted by petshark from Nor Cal, and on Twitter @petshark47 on 01/28/13 at 11:52 AM ET

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About Petshark: Talking Stick

Native of Northern California.  Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.

I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle.  I watch, I react, I write it down.

My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked.  I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind.  When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom.  It hasn't, I don't think it will.  At all.

Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.

I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.

I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at talkingstick@petshark.net