Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Blindside

Drew Doughty
Doughty Should Take All The Time He Needs
The 2010-11 NHL season has gotten off to quite a controversial start.  We've seen seven suspensions and six fines thrown out in the first three weeks of the season.  The Kings have found themselves right in the middle of a couple controversial hits over the past week.  Let's take a look at both of them.

Exhibit A: Erik Cole's hit on Drew Doughty

I was at the game last week and saw the collision.  Immediately, I saw Doughty hunch over and was a bit stunned but stayed on the ice for his shift.  I had a bad feeling it was a concussion based on the stunned look he had.  If it was his shoulder; he would have grabbed for it right away.  The contact looked incidental at the time but after watching the replay numerous times; I didn't like it one bit.

First, Doughty releases the puck before he hits the red line; the contact is made past the blue line.  A distance about 35-40 feet.  The play is developing in front of Cole; Doughty's head is turned towards the puck after he released it.  It appears that Cole chooses to turn at the exact time Doughty attempts to retreat towards his own blueline and then Cole decides to make his turn, line Doughty up, get his shoulder down, and brace for the hit.

The fact that absolutely nothing was called on the play really bothers me.  OK.  So maybe the ref didn't see a 'blindside' hit but he hit him a good three/four strides after he released the puck.  Can we get an interference call at least?

If Doughty is able to get the puck in deep instead of turning it over; I guess we're not having this conversation but still...

Dean Lombardi's comments regarding the hit.  Per Hammer.
“They viewed it as incidental contact, that these were two guys turning up ice and that he [Cole] wasn’t necessarily trying to finish his check, he was just more braced for it. This wasn’t a guy, in their interpretation, finishing a check. It was two guys turning back up ice when the puck was turned over. If they apply that standard, it’s not a suspension. In fairness, if you think about the Calgary game, with Westgarth, it’s very similar. They view this as the same type of situation, and if that’s the way they see if then, quite frankly, they’re right.”
The distance traveled between Westgarth and Bourque is alot longer but you can clearly see Westgarth attempt to jump out of the way at Bourque at the last-minute.  Cole didn't attempt to avoid the contact at all but initiated it.

EXHIBIT B: Dustin Brown's hit on Antii Miettinen

Call me a homer but I disagreed with the call when I saw it live and I hate it even more after watching the replays.  I actually thought Brownie might have gotten a charging/boarding penalty for crushing Greg Zanon into the end boards before his hit on Miettinen.  The 'blindside' hit is at the referee's discretion.  In this case, it was an overreaction to everything that's gone on over the year and could have cost the Kings two points.

In real-time, the hit didn't look good.  Miettinen's body goes flailing after releasing the shot.  But watching in on replay; Brown takes an extra stride to get in front of Miettinen.  If it's a blindside hit, Brown's skates should be parallel with Miettinen's; Brown is clearly in front of Miettinen when he makes the hit.  The initial point of contact was shoulder to shoulder.  Miettinen is leaning during his follow thru which may make it appear that Brown 'targeted' the head but on replay it looked like a shoulder on shoulder hit.

Did anyone take notice of the Minnesota Wild players after the hit?  Were they in uproar chasing Brown wanting to get even?  Absolutely not because it was a hockey play.  A player in a prime-scoring opportunity that's shooting the puck should be fair game.  Brown shouldn't and won't get suspended for the hit.

Coach Murray and I may differ on having an enforcer take up a spot on in your lineup and play five shifts a game but we agreed on our assessments of the hit.  Per Hammer.
They have a split-second to see the play happen, but Brownie actually comes around in front of the player and hits shoulder on the front of his shoulder. There was no blow to the head. You have an offensive player in a prime scoring area, shooting the puck. The defending player has to have the ability to get contact there. You have to defend against that kind of a shot. It’s a prime scoring situation. I thought he made a tremendous effort to get in front of the shooter and it comes right from the front. There was not, in my view of it, on the replay, a blindside hit.
Dear Versus programmers...If Brown was kicked out midway through the second period...maybe you shouldn't spotlight his matchup versus Mikko Koivu five times in the final 30 minutes.  His stats aren't going to change when he's not on the ice.  That is all.

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