Sin Bin: Dangerous Hits To The Head Need To Stop
Once again there was a terrible hit which targeted a player’s head. This time it was Douglas Murray of the Montreal Canadiens knocking out Tampa Bay Lightning’s Michael Kostka when the two teams met on 4/1/2014. The two GIFs below are via @myregularface.
At least the refs got it right and gave Murray a Match Penalty. Tampa Bay would go on to win the game 3-1 and Kostka was able to skate off under his own power. If watching Murray lift his elbow and nearly knock Kostka’s head off doesn’t make your stomach turn, you need many long sessions with a therapist.
Murray has every opportunity to turn and hit Kostka shoulder to shoulder. Instead he goes through the body and pulls his elbow high and into the head of the player he’s checking. Also, I’m sick of the ‘these hits happen so fast’ argument. If a player’s instinct is to raise and lead with their elbow during the split second a hit occurs it is an even bigger indictment against the offending player. A lot of players push their arm up for leverage to knock a guy down, but you actually have to make contact with the body first.
Here is another hit that had some Bruins fans buzzing, but I thought this one was clean. Mike Weaver put a big hit on Daniel Paille when the Bruins and Canadiens met on 3/24/2014. Paille is caught looking behind him for a pass along the wall and Weaver lines him up for a hit. You can see Weaver tap his stick before the hit, giving Paille some sort of heads up, and then Weaver makes contact with Paille’s right shoulder and follows through to knock him down (GIF via @peteblackburn). Weaver’s arm comes up higher than I’d like, but he gives Paille a warning to pick his head up and steps into the hit from a controlled and safe checking position.
It is time for the league to take these hits seriously. They are extreme, dangerous, and unnecessary in the course of a game. It’s time the punishments handed down by the league were just as extreme, even if they cross into excessive. The league needs to address these plays by keeping offenders off the ice. It should be a mandatory suspension until the injured player is able to play again. The additional games of suspension handed down by the league should not start until after the injured player returns to game action.
It is the only way to get players to respect the game and make these hits a dark note of the past.
UPDATE 2014-04-02 13:20
So it appears that Murray will only have a phone hearing with the Department of Player Safety. The maximum suspension he can have is five games.
Per @erlendssonTBO, Douglas Murray as a phone hearing, which means south of five games for the hit on Kostka.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) April 2, 2014
It was also announced that Kostkas was diagnosed with a concussion and there is no timetable for his return.
Kostka update -> RT @Missy_Zielinski BREAKING: Mike Kostka has been diagnosed with a concussion. There’s no timetable on his return.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) April 2, 2014
This is a perfect example of where Murray should not be allowed to play until Kostka has been cleared to return. If the league gives Murray a five game suspension, that suspension should start after Kostka has returned to the line-up. At least the refs gave Murray a Match Penalty, which means he is suspended until after his hearing. But games missed count as time served. What a joke.
UPDATE: 2014-04-03 14:20
The NHL Department of Player Safety has suspended Murray for three games. Here is the video explaining their decision.
I think this goes into a long list of missed opportunities for illegal hits to the head to be addressed by the league. Murray counts down his three games until he is back in the line-up, while Kostka is missing at least 20 minutes of his life.
Koskta said after leaving the ice for the trainers’ room it took him about 20 minutes to realize what was going on. The defenseman did not have any recollection of the hit, but had a chance to watch it on tape. – TB Lightning Team Site
There is no timetable for Kostka’s return.