Photo: Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network
We have all seen this before. Last Saturday night in Toronto, Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri delivered a crushing blindside blow to the head of Vancouver Canucks forward Daniel Sedin.
Here is a video of the hit:
Nazem Kadri was assessed a 5 minute charging major on the play, and a game misconduct. He was also given 5 more minutes for fighting against Jannik Hansen.
Here is a still frame photo from the initial moment of contact:
On Sunday, it was announced that the NHL Department of Player Safety decided not to suspend Nazem Kadri for this check on Daniel Sedin.
Here is a hit that took place last November. Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog delivered a blindside check to the head of Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand.
Here is a video of the hit:
Landeskog was assessed a match penalty on the play, and was later suspended for 2 games.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE KADRI HIT
After watching the replay multiple times, it is clear from the live replay and still frame that Kadri did make shoulder contact with Daniel Sedin’s head.
In addition to the shoulder hit to Daniel’s head, Kadri’s left skate also left the ice surface right before the initial contact was made. If a skate blade of a player leaves the ice surface, there is a good chance that a player is leaping into the air and is at a higher elevation.
The appropriate call was made on the ice for Kadri as he received 5 minutes for charging. Daniel Sedin was in a shooting motion, and Kadri’s hit happened simultaneously as Sedin was shooting the puck. Therefore, the hit was not late.
The hit was delivered from Daniel Sedin’s blindside, so there was no way he could have seen Kadri coming from that angle. Sedin did not have any opportunity to protect himself from this contact, which is why this hit should be considered illegal.
WHERE IS THE CONSISTENCY?
All blindside hits that involve the head as the principal point of contact should have some kind of supplemental discipline attached to them.
With the Landeskog hit on Marchand, you see a very similar incident on the ice. Like Sedin, Marchand was skating with the puck and was in a shooting motion. Landeskog came from the bench area over to Marchand and checked him in the middle of the circles. Marchand was not looking toward the benches, so there is no way he could have seen Landeskog come from his blindside.
These are hits that the NHL supposedly wants to get out of the game completely. There is no need for hits to the head to occur in the game of hockey. Some players that have played in the past have taken hits to the head which resulted in their careers ending early.
When there are two similar illegal hits that happen, how does one hit draw a 2-game suspension, and the other hit draw no suspension? What makes one blindside hit to the head different from another blindside hit to the head?
FIX THE BROKEN SYSTEM
The NHL is not setting a good example for its players in regards to player safety. If the NHL wants to crack down on illegal hits, they need to make all of the appropriate suspensions happen.
Throughout the course of a season, it seems like the NHL Department of Player Safety picks and chooses which illegal hits to penalize. Once a player does face a suspension, it becomes a roll of the dice to determine the length of the suspension.
The guidelines and penalties are not clear for the players, coaches, general managers, and fans that witness illegal checks. The NHL Department of Player Safety needs to reform their suspension code, and give everyone more clarity as to how they arrive at their certain decisions.
Everyone wants to see consistency when it comes to suspension length. When blindside hits like this occur, there should be a uniform number as to the number of games for a suspension. If I were calling the shots for these blindside hits, I would probably make them 4 or 5 games. These hits are more dangerous, and should not be tolerated by the league.
I am not opposed to longer suspension length, as they could provide a more effective deterrent to these dangerous hits. With a longer length, the players might use more caution on the ice, and not take as many risks with hits.
By: George Foussekis