Canucks captain Quinn Hughes threw the biggest hit of his NHL career last night and didn’t even mean to do it

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
22 days ago
Quinn Hughes is known for a lot of things.
Smooth skating, elite poise with and without the puck, and this season, a solid shot from the point. On the defensive side, Hughes relies on a high hockey IQ and excellent stick-checking technique to be one of the game’s elite defenders. At 24 years old he’s broken multiple Canucks records already, and for the past three seasons, has set a new single season defenceman points franchise record.
He’s the frontrunner for the Norris Trophy this season, and for good reason.
But one thing we don’t often see from Hughes is heavy hits, and certainly not heavy open-ice hits. Victor Olofsson clearly thought the same. That it was safe to go through the middle of the ice because the worst that could happen was Quinn Hughes would strip him of the puck. That’s not so bad, because Hughes has already stripped just about every forward in the league at this point in his career. What’s one more?
But it wasn’t safe. Not last night.
Because as plenty of people saw live last night, Hughes stepped up and knocked Olofsson over with a hard clean check at the Canucks’ blue line.
“It’s a message to the rest of the league, don’t go up the middle on Quinn Hughes,” Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet joked (but not really) post game. “It’s true, you never know, you never know who might hit you. Yeah, that was a hell of a hit, I think when he got back to the bench he was actually smiling, he liked it that much.”
It’s true; Hughes couldn’t hide his pleasure with what he’d just done in the aftermath of the hit, and it certainly didn’t hurt that the Rogers Arena crowd showered their captain with praise for the rare but effective open ice hit. The broadcast and in-arena camera crew caught Hughes’s reaction after the hit:
“Yeah it was almost like I scored a goal or something so that was funny,” Hughes said of the crowd reaction. “It’s nice being at home, and we’re first or second or third in the league — whatever we are — and the fans are into it… it’s enjoyable.
“It was funny, you don’t see that much from me, but it was a good feeling.”
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the hit is that Hughes wasn’t even necessarily trying to throw a hit. He didn’t have the pre-meditated thought that players like Nikita Zadorov have running through their minds as soon as they step onto a sheet of ice.
“Yeah, I’m definitely not a tough guy, I know my role. I don’t know if I even tried to hit him, I think just trying to make sure he doesn’t get by me, I think that’s what I was doing.”
Throwing the biggest hit of his career without even trying to do it. Is there anything this guy can’t do?!

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