Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at email@example.com.
I am a Habs fan, but no one likes to see headshots or injuries. I don't think that Douglas Murray intended to concuss Mike Kostka, and I really hate the trend of punishment based on severity of injury instead of severity of the infraction. Murray deserves a suspension, but given inconsistency of supplementary discipline I have no idea what is appropriate. I see worse things get away with nothing and things that aren't as bad might get 3 games. It just seems random.
What Murray did was a lazy, stupid panic reaction to a player he knew he could not keep up with or slow down legally, and could reasonably have been foreseen as injurious but I don't think he intended that. He clearly meant to hit him, he clearly stuck out his elbow, but I don't think he intended to make it the sole or even primary point of contact. He is just big and slow enough that it was all he made contact with.
I would probably give him 3-4 games but given inconsistency have no idea what to expect.
Whatta we have to do to get consistency, and what does this deserve?
Kerry, I read your post on a regular basis. My team is not on anyone's radar, playoff-wise, so bias not an issue here. On Tuesday you commented on the Orpik hit - I totally agree on your view. I just happened to be channel surfing last night and saw the Douglas Murray hit which may not have been equal to but not unlike the Orpik hit except Murrays skates did not leave the ice but intensions were much the same with perhaps a bit more elbow and the refs threw the book at Murray -- match penalty. In your opinion, should the refs be more on the severe side in these cases like the Murray hit? Also, there seems to be real disconnect when these calls are made in different games with different teams. Just an opinion, but I think it would be better if the referees were more severe - more MATCH penalties in these situations. Intent to injure, which many of these hits are, should equal a match penalty. Murray's hit equals automatic suspension, Orpik equals 0
CLICK HERE to watch the play in question.
PR and JB:
I agree that Douglas Murray neither attempted nor intended to injure Mike Kostka on this play. At 6'3 and 240 lbs, Douglas Murray is a huge presence on the blue line but he is not regarded as a dirty player. Murray is a "straight ahead" type of player with somewhat limited lateral mobility. Given his size, whenever Murray contains or catches an opponent inside his personal space he can administer a punishing body check. On the play in question, it was this limited lateral mobility that caused Douglas Murray to make himself even bigger with a reflex elbow once Mike Kostka dished the puck off in close quarters and was about to beat the Habs defenceman to the inside.
A match penalty for attempting to or deliberately injuring an opponent is more typically imposed for a retaliatory attack on an opponent and/or when there is a larger gap in space and time that would indicate some premeditation. For example, if Douglas Murray had taken a run at Mike Kosta with his elbow in an extended prone position targeted at the head of his opponent, a match penalty should clearly result.
While I am in no way condoning the poor and dangerous decision that Murray made to extend his elbow and contact the head of Kostka, it appeared to be a desperation, reflex move by Murray intended to stop his opponent and not in an attempt to deliberately injure Kostka. Under the current standard and interpretation, a 5 minute major and game misconduct would be the more expected penalty assessment on a play of this nature. The resulting time penalty (5 minutes) and expulsion from the game Murray incurred would have been the same with either assessment. To your point, JB, if there was any doubt in the ref's mind whether to assess a major plus game misconduct or a match penalty he and the game would be better served by imposing the more severe penalty. The primary difference is that as a result of being assessed a match penalty, Douglas Murray was automatically suspended from further competition until the Commissioner (Players' Safety Committee) has ruled on the issue as stipulated in Rule 21.2. If a major and game misconduct (or no penalty at all) had been assessed, the Players' Safety Committee would, at their discretion, been able to review the hit and impose a suspension to Murray under Rule 28 - supplementary discipline if they deemed it worthy.
Douglas Murray needs to be suspended for his decision and actions on this play. I wouldn't expect it to be more than three games but your guess is as good as mine. There is a big difference between Brooks Orpik's check that made contact through the body and the head of Jonathan Toews and Murray's elbow hit to the head of Mike Kostka. Orpik's hit is deemed to be entirely "legal" while Douglas Murray clearly violated Rule 45 - elbowing and/or Rule 48 - illegal check to the head. Orpik left his feet to increase velocity and impact through the hit on his opponent's body and head while Murray kept his skates planted firmly on the ice when he extended an elbow that struck the head of Kostka and became the main point of contact. Brooks Orpik intended to inflict added punishment with the hit on Toews, who had placed himself in a vulnerable position, while Douglas Murray's illegal reflex elbow was intended to stop Mike Kosta from getting past him. As I've outlined, there is a big difference in the two hits where contact to the head of an opponent resulted in varying degrees.