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What constitutes a legal hit?

Despite the NHL’s decision to, in theory, anyway, call charging and roughing penalties more regularly “in the future,” this season’s rulebook was not amended to discourage players from taking the kind of long (and unnecessary) runs at the Sidney Crosbys and Brad Stuarts of the world that have resulted in far too many concussions and broken bones. That being said, it at least appears that the NHL’s sent out a memorandum to its referees, encouraging them to crack down ever so slightly on hard hits, and that has players and teams downright confused, as TSN’s Darren Dreger notes in his Dreger Report:

[T]here seems to growing confusion among NHL players as to what is an acceptable bodycheck, the areas on the ice where it’s legal to complete the check and where the line is between what’s a good hard hit versus a hit that may be viewed as too hard by the NHL.

Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich voiced his concern over a boarding penalty on Friday night following the Caps 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Midway through the third period, Washington’s Matt Bradley was given a boarding penalty after delivering a punishing hit on Senators rookie Patrick Wiercioch. A hit both Bradley and Laich defended after the game.

“I understand what they want to do and I’m all for getting rid of dirty hits, but in my mind that wasn’t a dirty hit,” Bradley told reporters. “Are we trying to eliminate hitting from the game? Is that what we’re trying to do with all this talk? He hits him above the goal-line and it’s a boarding call? How is he supposed to play if that’s a call?”

Laich didn’t back down on Sunday by saying Bradley’s main strength is his ability to forecheck and he’s instructed by Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau to engage physically. Laich is concerned about the trend and the impact it might have on all NHL players whose game is based on energy and playing the body and doesn’t want to see any of the competitiveness removed from the sport.
...
NHL general managers agreed the league should crack down on marginal hits where either boarding or charging penalties might be applied, but sources say there has been no directive given to referees to do so, and any discussions the gm’s had regarding changes are specific to next season. The NHL says officials continue to apply the existing rules as they have since Oct. 7.

If there is ever a truism regarding rules in the NHL, it’s that they’re inconsistently applied, but there are trends in terms of enforcement, and after a few months’ worth of, “If you give him a prostate exam on ice and it doesn’t interfere with play, it’s OK” refereeing, it’s very clear that the NHL’s asked its referees to crack down on interference calls.

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Comments

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the NHL is handling this just like they did with feet in the crease…creating mass confusion and chaos…. ultimately we all know the NHL didnt have the balls to call back the Stanley Cup winning goal that should never have counted using their standards at the time

Posted by cberth on 03/28/11 at 04:26 PM ET

calquake's avatar

Sad… but true.

Posted by calquake on 03/28/11 at 04:59 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.