The Buffalo Sabres are receiving flack for their reaction (or lack thereof) to Boston Bruin forward Milan Lucic’s hit on Sabres goalie Ryan Miller Saturday.
Lucic received a two-minute minor penalty for charging on the play, while Miller suffered a concussion and will be out of the lineup for an undetermined length of time.
Former Sabres enforcer Rob Ray said if a player ran his goalie like that when he was still in the league, him and his teammates would have handled the situation much differently.
“Back then we could have been called for every guy going over the boards to settle the score because it’s your star player, it’s your goaltender that is the name and face of your organization,” Ray told Jeff Blair on Sportsnet 590 The Fan.
“When nothing happens, it’s not saying a whole lot for the togetherness of your hockey team.”
Ray said the Sabres on the ice at the time, including scorers Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville, aren’t known for fighting and weren’t the proper guys to confront a player like Lucic.
“Realistically the guy that could have done something was Paul Gaustad and he was on the ice at that time and it didn’t happen,” Ray said.
Ray, who is part of the Sabres broadcast team, was between the benches doing colour commentary during the game and said him and his colleagues expected someone to go after Lucic.
“In our minds it was going to happen at some point in the game, and when it didn’t, especially when the score become 6-1, it became a real issue,” Ray said.
Audio: Rob Ray on Sportsnet Radio 590
“Hits are going to happen, things like that are going to happen on the ice and you have to kind of expect it sometimes. But there’s things you have to do to address it at some point. Not only for the game itself, but I think they took a huge step back as far as credibility around the league.”
Although Ray didn’t like how the Sabres handled the hit, he said he doesn’t believe Lucic deserves to be suspended for the incident.
“Could he have avoided him? Probably. But he didn’t target any specific area. He never targeted his head or anything. It was his momentum taking him through,” Ray said.
“You got a 250-plus-pound man coming at you things are going to happen. Ryan wouldn’t be even a 200lb man even with all his equipment on. So, it’s going to look a lot worse than maybe it really was because of the size of the individuals that are hitting each other.”
Ray added: “If Brendan Shanahan gave a suspension on this I would be very surprised.”
Update: Milan Lucic was not suspended or fined for his hit on Ryan Miller, the NHL ruled Monday.