When Nazem Kadri hit Daniel Sedin with a blindside check in early November, he did not receive a suspension because, although Sedin didn’t see it coming, the principal point of contact was with the shoulder instead of the head. The hit was a hot topic at the GM Meetings in late November and had some wondering whether the NHL should go back to the “blindside” terminology to better protect the players, at the cost of a more physical game.
“If you introduce now that you can’t hit anybody from the blindside, you are going to take a big part out of the game,” Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos cautioned on a Hockey Night in Canada Headlines segment.
On Tuesday, the Canucks were again on the receiving end of a controversial hit. New Jersey’s Taylor Hall delivered a crushing blow on Canucks defenceman Philip Larsen and it appears the head was the principal point of contact on this one. Larsen appeared to be unconscious on the ice and had to be brought off the ice on a stretcher.
But Hall neither left his feet nor lifted his elbow. He doesn’t even deliver the shoulder, which suggests he recognized Larsen’s vulnerable position and didn’t try to hit him as hard as he could. And if the word blindside was still used by the league for determining a suspendable hit, it wouldn’t even apply here because Larsen was fully squared up to Hall.
This one will likely be reviewed by the league but the question becomes: what should Hall have done differently in this situation? The answer to hit lower — or not at all — is easier said than done at game speed, but if player safety is the most important concern, perhaps that’s where the discussion ends.
This is another hit that will inevitably lead to a debate on what an illegal check is in today’s game, and what rule wording goes too far and threatens the physical nature of hockey. The fact Hall appeared to let up a little may save him from a suspension, but given the injury the league may decide he has to sit down for a few games.
What do you think?