Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry Fraser wants to answer your emails at firstname.lastname@example.org!
I'm a hardcore hockey fan, have been for over 40 years.
I just looked at Rick Nash's hit on Tomas Kopecky last week. That was a clear elbow to the head and he left his feet....I just don't understand!
No penalty? A missed/blown call? And no suspension - I'm dumbfounded by that. If we're out to clean up the headshots, the lack of discipline after this infraction has me bewildered, saddened and dismayed enough to write you looking for answers.
I, like you, am dumbfounded that no penalty was called on the ice or that a subsequent suspension was not imposed by the "Player Safety Committee" following their review of Rick Nash's irresponsible and dangerous hit on Tomas Kopecky (Video link here). Had Kopecky sustained an injury on the play my best guess is that a different decision would have been rendered. 'Player safety' will be greatly enhanced when players are held more accountable for the acts they commit as opposed to the end result!
A major gap of coverage by the two Referees took place when Tomas Kopecky received the pass in the middle of the low slot from Marcel Goc. Kopecky turned and squared to the net well in advance of the contact by Nash and fired the puck. The shot on goal caused the Referee down low to appropriately shift his focus with the puck to determine if it entered the net. The shot struck the crossbar and the goal line Referee issued a washout signal that no goal resulted.
The gap in coverage resulted from the trailing Referee who should have seen Rick Nash tracking Tomas Kopecky from a distance and remained focused on the late finish of the hit. The puck became the principle focus for both Referees on this play and Nash's launch and elbow went undetected in the same way that Raffi Torres' late hit on Marian Hossa did in last year's playoffs did. The call on the ice from the back Referee should have been a major penalty for either charging (leaving his feet) and elbowing. If it was determined that an injury to the head of Kopecky resulted a game misconduct would also be assessed. I would prefer that a game misconduct be included on a needless and reckless hit to the head area of an opponent in cases such as this.
Now let me weigh in on the Player Safety Committee and a review of their decision that does not serve as a deterrent for players to act in responsible manner moving forward. Far too many excuses are made to allow a 'free pass' when poor player decisions are made but do not result in some form of injury through good luck. The verbiage used by Brendan Shanahan in this decision casts some of the responsibility on Tomas Kopecky for turning prior to contact which he says contributes to the impact of the hit. There was a sufficient gap when Kopecky turned to shoot the puck for Nash to alter his method of delivering a high hit in the region of his opponents head. There was absolutely no reason for Rick Nash to leave his feet, raise and lead with his elbow and deliver the high, blind side hit high on Tomas Kopecky.
I do not agree with the assertion that Kopecky's shoulder and name plate on his sweater was the principle point of contact and that Nash's arm riding up caused Thomas Kopecky to lose his helmet and fall forward. The Florida Panther broadcast showed a replay from the blue line camera after coming out of a commercial break that demonstrates Rick Nash's elbow striking the back of Kopecky's helmet simultaneously with the name plate and not as a result of a secondary ride-up. This puts into question the Committee's assertion that Tomas Kopecky's head was not contacted nor was it the principle point of contact on the blindside hit delivered by Rick Nash. If that is the Committee's contention are we really just an inch or two (or a name plate away) from determining this to be hit that should be eliminated from the game. Can we not at least agree that any elevated blindside contact delivered with a player's elbow has more potential to seriously injure an opponent than not and should be banished from the game. Must we rely on "good luck" to protect players when decisions such as this are made?
For players to be protected from these dangerous hits the culture of hitting must change. That can only take place through on-ice enforcement by the Referees whenever dangerous hit occur and through player accountability through suspensions.
Ron, sooner or later somebody's "luck" is going to run out.