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I'm wondering what you think about the elbow that Dustin Brown delivered to Jason Pominville's face on Tuesday night. It seems like a tricky situation because Pominville was skating towards Brown in an attempt to steal the puck and he approached him behind.
Brown appears to have his back to Pominville the whole time and could tell Brendan Shanahan that he never saw Pominville coming but when you observe the motion of Brown's elbow that's hard to believe. Do you think Brown should have been penalized or that it would be possible to determine intent from the video?
Dustin Brown was definitely aware of an impending check (video link) that could be delivered in some form by Jason Pominville. As the puck arrived on Brown's stick along the wall the Kings Captain made the decision to protect both his body and the puck as he braced for contact with an erect strengthened posture. Brown's elbow remained in the bent position he had utilized just a split second prior to contact to stop the puck as it approached from around the kick plate of the boards.
After stopping the puck Dustin Brown slightly elevated and delivered a shoulder shrug back toward the incoming Pominville. Brown compacted his extremity slightly toward his body just prior to contact and his elbow moved with his shoulder turn but was not delivered in a distinct or deliberate extended elbow motion. (Rule 45.1 - Elbowing shall mean the use of an extended elbow in a manner that may or may not cause injury.)
Jason Pominville, on the other hand made the decision to attempt a poke check of the puck and in doing so lowered his posture considerably (including his head) to reach around Brown's body. At this point Dustin Brown pushed back with an attempted shoulder check and Jason Pominville's face accidentally became part of the contact as a result of the low position that Pominville had placed himself in.
Based on Dustin Brown's actions I would not deem any intent on his part to contact the head of his opponent nor would I assess an elbowing penalty on the play as a result of the body posture and approach that Jason Pominville made in attempting to separate Brown from the puck.
The rationale in arriving at this judgment is similar to a player who put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the check as stated in the language of the boarding rule.
C'mon Ref Update: Dustin Brown suspended for two games by the Player Safety Committee
Upon seeing this replay angle of the Dustin Brown elbow for the very first time as posted on NHL.com I was clearly wrong in my answer to Jonathan and the rest of you on this play. For that I apologize.
There is absolutely no doubt from this angle that Brown clearly knew what he was doing and deliberately elbowed Jason Pominville in the face. I fully concur with the two-game suspension handed down by the Player Safety Committee for this illegal and dangerous elbow. They thankfully got it right — I didn't!