The Malik Report
by George Malik on 10/26/13 at 12:45 PM ET
Colorado Avalanche forward Cody McLeod was suspended for 5 games for a check to Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall "in the numbers," and while McLeod suggested that he never meant to hurt Kronwall, and Kronwall, who missed two games with a concussion, insisted that he "put himself in a bad spot," he deferred to the NHL's Department of Player Safety as to whether the hit was clean or illegal.
The Denver Post's Adrian Dater's weighed in on Kronwall's comments, and I really don't know where to begin here:
When Cody McLeod made that hit on Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall, a lot of people got silly with their over-reactions, some calling it “inexcusable” and “indefensible” and others who don’t know much about hockey going into more hysterics. At the time, I said that it was a late hit and would likely result in a suspension, which turned out to be the case. I also said that Kronwall put himself in a bad spot by keeping his head low around the dasher while playing a puck, then shifting his direction. And of course, all that got me was a hail storm of nasty Twitter invective from Wings fans and other high-horse knights of the keyboard.
That "others who don't know much about hockey going into more hysterics" link goes to Deadspin's take on the Avalanche's announcers' insistence that Kronwall got a taste of his own medicine, and that McLeod had to "finish" his hit to take out the Red Wings' top defenseman because that's what hockey players are supposed to do.
Well guess who said he was partially to blame for that hit happening? Yup, Niklas Kronwall. As he told The Detroit News:
“I could have done a lot of things differently,” Kronwall said. “I shouldn’t have put myself in that spot in the first place. He’s coming in with a lot of speed, sure, but I did turn at the last second.
“It goes fast out there and it’s so easy to go back and slow it down, look at it in slow motion, and be very smart about things. But it’s hockey and everything is high pace and it goes fast out there. Guys will make some bad decisions out there sometimes. In my case, I ended up on a stretcher. But I’m feeling pretty good and looking to get back out there.”
Hats off to Kronwall for enlightening those who think every time a guy gets hurt on a hit, the offender needs to be locked up and hockey turned into badminton.
[sarcasm] Because players like Cody McLeod, John Scott, Patrick Kaleta and Maxim Lapierre never, ever intend to hurt anyone, nor do they ever skate around the ice like predators looking to inflict maximum physical damage [/sarcasm]
I will defer to Sheriff Shanny on this one...
Quoting Shanahan, via Puck Daddy's Harrison Mooney...
"With the speed of today's game, there often are occaisons where a player changing direction or turning his back just prior to or simultaneous with an oncoming check may absolve a checker from responsibility. The boarding rule states that we are to consider it. It certainly is a notable aspect of the play, and we have considered it."
Unfortunately, the absolution does not follow for McLeod, nor should it.
"The key to this play, however," Shanahan says, "is that we are convinced McLeod has time to avoid or minimize checking Kronwall from behind. This is because, although Kronwall cuts back, McLeod actually makes an adjustment to his own path, and is responsible for the violent collision that results."
The reverse angle on the hit does show McLeod altering his angle to make sure he gets the most of Kronwall, and that appears to be the moment at which he earns his five-game suspension. The Department is watching his skates, and rather than seeing an adjustment that could lead to a safe play, they spot an adjustment to make the dirty one. That's never a good sign.
"At no point do we see any action by his skates indicating that he is attempting to stop or at the very least slow down prior to this forceful check," Shanahan says.
"With the speed of today's game, there often are occasions where a player changing direction or turning his back just prior to or simultaneous with an oncoming check may absolve a checker from responsibility," Shanahan said.
He said that the Department of Player Safety considered that, but "we're convinced McLeod had time to avoid or minimize checking Kronwall from behind."
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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.