Paul Coffey: NHL must look at Ovechkin’s ‘brutal’ stick on Crosby

Join Ron MacLean, Nick Kypreos, Kelly Hrudey and Elliotte Friedman as they discuss the injury Sidney Crosby sustained during the first period of Game 3.

While a significant portion of hockey viewers woke up Tuesday morning cursing Matt Niskanen for injuring Sidney Crosby, Paul Coffey offered a different view.

The legendary defenceman, who spent parts of five seasons and won a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins, believes the NHL should instead be reviewing Alex Ovechkin‘s whack of Crosby during the Capitals’ Game 3 overtime win Monday.

“The thing everybody’s overlooking—and we’ll never, never know because Sid got hit twice—is the two-hander he took to the back of the neck and the head by Ovechkin,” Coffey told The Starting Lineup on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Tuesday.

“When Crosby was falling down, that could’ve been the initial blow that hurt him. Nobody knows, and nobody’s talking about that. That was a brutal two-hander by Ovechkin to Crosby when he was going to the net.”

Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup
Paul Coffey: League should look at Ovechkin's - not Niskanen's - hit on Crosby
May 02 2017

After getting sticked by Ovechkin and cross-checked in the head by Niskanen, Crosby left the game and did not return.

Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan announced Tuesday that Crosby has been diagnosed with a concussion and has been ruled out for Game 4.

Niskanen received a five-minute major penalty for cross-checking and a game misconduct on the play, which occurred in the first period. The Capitals defenceman will not be subjected to further discipline from the league.

“The Niskanen thing—they’re calling it a hockey play—I get that. It was a reaction. I don’t think he meant to. Sid kinda fell into him. The big thing the league needs to look at is the Ovechkin thing,” said Coffey, a Hall of Famer who still roots for the Penguins.

“I got nothing against Ovechkin. I think he’s a great player. I honestly think that’s what the league should be looking at. … We don’t know if he was out of it when he was falling down. We’ll never know. Sid’s the only guy that knows that.”

Washington coach Barry Trotz was asked about Ovechkin’s role in Crosby’s injury post-game. He didn’t respond favourably to the line of questioning.

“You want me to defend Alex? Is Kunitz’s predatory hit on Oshie OK? Or the one on Backstrom? Is that OK?” Trotz said. “I’m not going to debate all that stuff.”

Coffey admired Sullivan’s positive response to the incident.

“He didn’t harp on it. It’s time to get over it,” Coffey said. “There’s not a lot of teams that can keep the wheels going missing their top player.”

Sullivan preached that the Penguins’ depth of talent and character would enable them to remain competitive even if Crosby is to miss a portion of the playoffs.

“We got a series now, that’s for sure,” Coffey said. “And it’s going to be great to watch.”


Coffey was not the only Hall of Famer to appear on the radio program Tuesday morning. Brett Hull hopped on to discuss the St. Louis Blues–Nashville Predators series. Listen below:

Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup
Brett Hull: Blues are the best team "from the neck up"
May 02 2017

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