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Very belatedly: Nikita Nikitin will be OK; Red Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg faces no suspension

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.

Update: The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan (via RedWingsFeed) 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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DrewBehr's avatar

... Brandon Shanahan?

Good to hear though. Feared Nikitin easily had a broken ankle.

Posted by DrewBehr from The Mitten on 01/22/12 at 09:17 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

That’s Pleiness’s mistake, not mine. You would be absolutely stunned at the regularity of bizarre typos if I didn’t very quietly correct the vast majority of them.

I would prefer to not do so, but I’ve found that if I choose to let them be, readers get distracted by the mistakes, and we’d be taking about, “How the hell did he/she get THAT wrong?” stuff on an every-other-entry basis.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 01/22/12 at 09:55 PM ET


you knew nothing would happen with Shanny ruling. After all Z does play for Shannys old team and one of the top teams in the NHL and Nikitin plays for the CBJ!

Posted by shannytakescareofhisboys on 01/22/12 at 10:00 PM ET

Ajax19's avatar

Yes. Just like when Shanny didn’t suspend Brendan Smith for five games earlier this season when he hit a Blackhawk.  Oh wait…

Posted by Ajax19 on 01/22/12 at 10:12 PM ET

HockeyFanOhio's avatar

Glad to hear on both accounts.  Nikitin is a young guy that hopefully has a good career in front of him.

Posted by HockeyFanOhio from Central Ohio on 01/22/12 at 10:15 PM ET


yea but he hit a blackhawk, if it was a cbj player nothing would have happened.

Posted by shannytakescareofhisboys on 01/22/12 at 10:22 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I don’t think that there’s bias involved given Smith’s suspension, but I do understand the frustration regarding inconsistency of rulings. I don’t think that any of us can deny that much of Colin Campbell’s suspension policies fell under criticism because factors like the teams and players involved, the press’s furor over the incident and whether games in which suspicious plays occurred were nationally televised all seemed to determine whether the “Wheel of Justice” would land on, “Congratulations! You’ve been suspended!” or, “Nobody knows him, nobody saw it, nobody complained, you’re good, kid.”

I can certainly understand frustration with Shanahan’s inconsistency regarding the severity of pre-season and early-season suspensions as compared to mid-season ones, and Blue Jackets fans certainly have understandable beefs with Shanahan given the James Wisniewski suspensions.

I don’t think we can suggest that many of these suspensions remain injury instead of intent-determined, and that’s frustrating, too, but I just don’t believe that Shanahan needs to suspend someone who has no status as a “repeat offender” for a hit which both teams seemed to agree was unintentional, without malice and justifiably penalized under the league’s new emphasis on holding hitters more responsible for their actions along the end boards.

And if I may get “Shanahan-y” for the moment, for the record for all commenters: if you assume that your lack of having to register means that you are free from consequences when you post anonymously, you forget that I moderators like me can see your IP address, and that I can pretty easily ban it if I feel that you’ve gone from venting frustration to launching personal attacks.

That goes for Paul, too, and when our other bloggers start reporting “problem” commenters on repeated bases, we can check those IP’s against those of other comments and figure out who that person is, what handle or handles they comment under and whether their comments merit any “supplementary discipline” in terms of warning a registered member who’s logging out to insult others or anonymous commenters who feel that not having to register renders them free of the responsibility to be held accountable for their remarks.

And again, I don’t give a rat’s ass what anybody has to say in terms of insulting me—it’s my job to be called a professional moron and agree with you when you insult my lineage—but going after fellow posters for anything other than the substance of their comments as fodder for respectable disagreement is not cool.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 01/22/12 at 11:43 PM ET

DrewBehr's avatar

For the record, George, I completely knew it wasn’t your mistake. I still found the two-vowel typo to be funny, however.

I’m still a bigger fan of Shanny’s than I was of Campbell’s (I feel that the explanation videos are a big reason for that), but he’s far from the disciplinarian that I expected him to be. I’m starting to feel his pre-season suspensions were nothing more than an intimidation ploy that didn’t work. These $2,500 fines are a joke, and not punishing incidents like the Lucic hit on Miller are unforgettable and unforgivable.

Posted by DrewBehr from The Mitten on 01/23/12 at 01:26 AM ET


a professional moron

I didn’t know you’re a politician, George!

not punishing incidents like the Lucic hit on Miller are unforgettable and unforgivable.

My understanding was that Shanahan didn’t feel he had the power to do anything about that, not that he chose not to.

Posted by bleep bloop on 01/23/12 at 01:52 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

I’m glad Nikitin is okay. That ankle looked very broken in the slo-mo replay.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 01/23/12 at 02:26 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

It looks bad. I think Z said it best, and frankly, his comments probably helped his case.

From my POV, I wouldn’t have been upset had he gotten a game, but I don’t think the result was unfair. If anyone wants anything more to have come out of this, a fine and “repeat offender” status going forward would’ve been pretty reasonable.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 01/23/12 at 11:46 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

To be perfectly honest I thought the game misconduct and the major penalty were reactionary measures in themselves.  I was sitting parallel to the goal line and from my vantage point it looked like Nikitin fell on his own.  I see from the replay that this wasn’t the case, but if Zetterberg was trying to hurt the guy, I’d think he would have employed more than an innocuous push.

I’m glad to hear that Nikitin is more or less alright.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 01/23/12 at 02:15 PM ET

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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.


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