It’s only a day after Duncan Keith delivered a flying elbow to the head of Daniel Sedin as retaliation for a previous hit that Sedin had laid on Keith. Keith’s hit was illegal and he will absolutely be suspended for it; however this is one of those cases where I believe that an illegal action was also a necessary action. Necessary because proper justice was not going to be served for a hit that Keith felt crossed the line.
Vancouver fans are crying “bloody murder”, and a good percentage of NHL players and fans are quietly thinking to themselves.. “couldn’t have happened to a better team”. It is undeniable that the Vancouver Canucks have a reputation as being one the NHL’s dirtiest and most hated teams and last night they got exactly what they deserved, a taste of their own Dirty Medicine.
And for those Canuck fans who believe that the Sedin hit wasn’t illegal let me quickly explain why it was both intentional and illegal, using the typical criteria of analysis that the NHL uses.
1) Did Keith have the puck – NO
2) Was the hit from the blindside – YES
3) Was the principle point of contact the head – YES
These three facts alone makes it an illegal hit; but lets look a little closer at the hit itself. Can we at least agree that hockey hits are designed to be Shoulder on Shoulder…. I mean that’s why they wear those massive shoulder pads isn’t it??
So if hockey hits are designed to be shoulder on shoulder why does Sedin skate right past Keith’s right shoulder, proceed around to the front of his body and just as he is about to deliver a hit to Keith’s Sternum elevate his shoulder right into Keith’s face? I’ve played enough hockey to know a deliberate action when a I see it and both Sedin’s hit and Keith’s hit were deliberate attempts to hit the other in the head. Really the only difference lies in the Cause & Effect relationship…. without one hit we would not have the other.
Now it’s the NHL’s turn.. most of the blame for this incident goes to Brendan Shanahan and the NHL; for refusing to hand out real suspensions to those who target another players head (and livelihood) with either an elbow or shoulder. A real suspension of 20 + games for a first offense would almost eliminate the concussion problem plaguing the NHL. Matt Cooke is a prime example; Cooke received almost 20 games for his illegal hit to the head at the end of the season last year. This was Cooke’s 5th suspension for an illegal hit to the head; but it was the first suspension that was large enough to actually send a message to Cooke. Just image if this message had of been sent during his first suspension… there would be 4 fewer players in the NHL with brain damage of some degree.
This season Cooke has learned to play the game with integrity as a result of the message sent at the end of last year, and the results of these changes incredible. Cooke has averaged a little over 100 PIM’s over the past 5 years and this year only has 30. Oh and he also has more goals this year than he ever has before; and has more points this year than any of his previous 7 seasons.
A message was sent to play hockey, and that is exactly what Cooke is doing.
Perhaps Keith would not have needed to retaliate if the NHL had a history of handling head shots properly; but they don’t so Keith retaliated to deliver the justice that he felt the NHL would deny him… and honestly I can’t blame him and I doubt that his coach, teammates, GM and owners will blame him either.
About the Author
Written by Kirk Butler
Born and raised in Murray Harbour - PEI. Like many Canadians hockey is my religion; as a kid I had the pleasure of playing my minor hockey with Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards of the 2004 Stanley Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning. I played competitive hockey until the age of 21 which included stops in the American Prep School System, Canadian Junior Hockey and the CIS. I now get my competitive fix on the golf course as a scratch golfer. More to come: Kirk Butler PEI, Canada