I’d like to be able to tell you that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety used the opportunity afforded them by last night’s vicious hit to Daniel Sedin’s head to drive home their continued desire to eliminate predatory blindside hits to the heads of defenceless players. I really would.
That’s just not the case, though. Blame a zealous adherence to the minutiae of blindside language if you think the shoulder is the principal point of contact. You can even blame this on the outright incompetence of a ‘player safety’ department whose sole function appears slanted towards preserving an arcane snapshot into hockey’s history where safety is secondary to superfluous cultural rallying points. Keep your head up. Don’t watch your pass. And so on.
Whatever the case, Nazem Kadri has avoided discipline for his hit on D. Sedin in the third period of last night’s game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks. Kadri was charged with 15 minutes in penalties (10-minute game misconduct and 5-minute charging major) on the play.
No hearing/supplementary discipline for Nazem Kadri hit on Daniel Sedin last night.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) November 6, 2016
The point at which the defendants of this ruling have inevitably congealed is the principal point of contact. Which, of course, raises the question of the definition of that specific word and how it applies to this instance and others like it. If one were to check the Dictionary.com definitions for principal, no less than ten examples would arise.
It’s not quite as simple as the ‘first’ point. In fact, as Nicholas J. Cotsonika was apt to point out, the NHL actually removed that language from their legislation due to the confusion therein.
People keep using “principal point of contact.” Word “principal” was dropped from rule long ago because people confused it with “first.” (1)
— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) November 6, 2016
Question is if head is “main point of contact.” Not if it’s blindside. Not if it’s shoulder to shoulder. Kadri got a lot of the body. (2)
— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) November 6, 2016
Another application for the word ‘principal’ would be the foremost point. Where Cotsonika (and countless others) lose me is the notion that the head isn’t it in this case. Here’s the video footage in real time.
From that angle, one could certainly argue that the foremost part of Sedin that Kadri contacts is his body, or shoulder, even. If that were the case, though, I’m not certain Sedin’s helmet would’ve launched itself skyward as a result. An assumption which carries weight, especially in light of this angle, which clearly shows Kadri either making concurrent contact with Sedin’s head and shoulder or the head itself entirely.
Here’s another angle. Really does look like head is the principal contact point from here. pic.twitter.com/8AvxDkRWJ2
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) November 6, 2016
As many were right to point out, though, it’s not entirely surprising that members of the Toronto and Vancouver camps respectively – whether as fans, media, players, etc. – have drawn their battle lines in support of their home teams. Those invested in the Canucks obviously think it’s a dirty blindside hit aimed at Sedin’s head. And those invested in the Maple Leafs obviously think it was a shoulder check.
Whether the freeze frame over analysis of this hit supports either camp’s position shouldn’t matter. Sedin’s launched the puck from his stick long before Kadri’s arrival — scored on the play, too. It’s charging, insofar as Kadri comes from further than three steps and leaves his feet to deliver the hit. Whether the head is the primary point of contact or not, it is very clearly a part of the hit. These facts are irrefutable and the referees who ruled on this hit at the time made that clear with the penalties they assessed Kadri on the play.
It’s a predatory, violent and plain unnecessary hit. Look at the play and tell me what exactly Kadri can accomplish with that check. The puck isn’t there. You’re not separating Sedin from the puck. This hit is the exact type of play the NHL should be working to eliminate from the game entirely. Especially in light of the multiple concussion lawsuits and class action suits they’ve faced and will continue to face.
The Province’s Jason Botchford summed it up best in last night’s edition of The Provies.
It’s bullshit, really. The same odd collection of rules and regulations which have led to a stunning variety of discipline for various hits which appear to be doled out without rhyme or reason.
Someone texted me that these people need to pull their head out of their collective asses as they delve into the minutiae of the technical legality of blindside hits.
And he was right.
Because if you don’t think there was a problem with that hit, you don’t care about player safety.
Like, at all.
The Canucks released a statement in light of today’s news. While clearly disappointed, Canucks General Manager Jim Benning didn’t take a particularly bold stance in defence of his player.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) November 6, 2016
One can take some small solace in Sedin maintaining a clean bill of health in the aftermath of that hit. By that same token, concussions symptoms can take days to appear. Hell, I’ve suffered one that took a full 24 hours to manifest. Here’s hoping this isn’t the case with Daniel Sedin. If not for the short-term fortunes of this faltering franchise, at least the long-term health of one of its best players.