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Napa, CA • United States • 26 Years Old • Male
Recently I've seen a lot of questionable calls by officials on some hard hits in the NHL and NCAA. Cal Clutterbuck, for example, was given a 5 minute major and a game misconduct for his hit against Vancouver's Alex Burrows. Watching the game on Fox Sports I cannot help but ask if the NHL is trying to send a message that it wants to be the "No Hit League."

Did Clutterbuck deserve a penalty? Yes. Clutterbuck definitely hit Burrows from behind and he definitely should've been given a penalty. But there was nothing vicious about the hit that meritted an early exit, or even a 5 minute major for that matter. I would've tolerated the double minor for hitting from behind (Burrows cut himself on the boards as he fell), but Burrows also saw the hit coming and turned his back to Clutterbuck to draw the penalty.

Recently Matt Cooke was suspended two games for a questionable hit. I didn't see the hit, and I only heard about it after he was suspended, so I can't comment on whether or not the league was justified in it's actions. What I can say is that this sends a message loud and clear to players that they must think twice before they hit someone.

They do not, however, have anything to fear from the league for punching someone in the head with gloves on. Prior to the All-Star break I was appalled to watch the Minnesota Wild games against Phoenix and Edmonton. It's not that they were awful games. It's the fact that two incidents stood out above all the great hockey that was played at "The X."

Against Phoenix, Wild forward Mikko Koivu cleared the puck from the zone while being hooked by Coyote Defenseman Derek Morris. Morris kept up his hook even after the puck was long gone and proceeded to take a few swings at the back of Koivu's head. Neither penalty was called.

Against Edmonton there were several tense moments after whistle with players taking a few shots at each other. The third period saw the most aggregious of it all. First Sheldon Souray got in a fight with Minnesota's Craig Weller and knocked him to the ice after two punches. Normally I would sit back and say Weller should've picked his fight better, but Souray was wearing a brace on his hand because of a recent wrist injury. This was what hit Weller's face and nearly knocked him unconcious.

Later in the third period there was some pushing and shoving after Dwayne Roloson had covered the puck. I didn't catch the player's number - and apparantly neither did the officials since there was no roughing call made - but one of the oilers took the liberty of throwing a few right hooks at one of the Wild forwards. The Minnesota player did not fight back in any way. Even with the officials in the middle trying to seperate them the Oiler's player still continued to throw punches.

I'm a die hard hockey fan. I love this sport and I want to see it grow and become one of the most popular sports in the world. But it is calls like this that make me hate the beauracracy that is Gary Bettman's NHL. To punish hits like Cooke and Clutterbuck's so severly, and then turn around and give a "stern warning" to Souray for his fight and nothing at all to players hitting each other in the head behind or after the play is just stupid to me.

The violence inherent to the game is not tolerated, but the violence that can be easily and unquestionably condemned is ignored. Does anyone else see something wrong here??
Filed Under:   NHL   Wild   Cal Clutterbuck   Canucks   Oilers   Coyotes  
February 2, 2009 1:05 PM ET | Delete
They're not trying to eliminate hitting from the game, just hitting from behind. Giving out misconducts and suspensions is meant to make players think twice about hitting a guy when his back is facing you.
February 2, 2009 3:27 PM ET | Delete
To add on to your point, back in December against Buffalo, Denis Gauthier sucker punches Patrick Kaleta with the glove on, knocks him out for 1 1/2 months, and Denis gets no discipline from the league. However, they are considering suspending him for hitting Josh Gorges on Saturday. Feel free to elaborate if you so choose because I cannot find the words to describe this.
February 2, 2009 5:49 PM ET | Delete
Another blame the victim idiot surfaces. Not to mention ludicrous comments like: " Burrows cut himself on the boards", "Burrows turned his back...." Wake up and actually watch the game - Clutterbuck hit Burrows from behind into the boards causing injury -- 5 and a game (almost) automatic. C had more than enough time to slow down his momentum and still finish the check and he didn't. Therefore deliberate attempt to injure -- 5 and a game automatic. If that kind of hit is what you call hitting in hockey, maybe you should stick to the crap that is ufc et al. Oh yes, the refs really have it in for poor Minny.
February 3, 2009 2:24 AM ET | Delete
Under NHL Rule 44.1 "When a player intentionally turns his body to create contact with his back, no penalty shall be assessed." Burrows looked straight at Clutterbuck, who had just hit Ohland twice in a span of 20 seconds. You cannot tell me he did not see that hit coming. And you missed the whole point of the blog anyways. The point is, Talond, that players are be punished for contact that is and always has been part of the game. I'm not disputing that this is dangerous and that the league should crack down. What I am stating is that the league is not cracking down on punching someone in the face or back of the head with gloves on. This kind of play is just as dangerous as hitting from behind, and by the way is the textbook definition of roughing under NHL Rule 51.1. Yes I did consult the NHL Rulebook for those numbers.
February 3, 2009 5:58 AM ET | Delete
Is punching someone in the groin from behind between the legs OK? That's what Sidney Crosby did to one of the Thrashers while he was engaged with another fighter earlier this season. The recipient was SO embarrased (for himself AND Crosby) that after viewing the tape, he didn't want to talk about it.
February 3, 2009 4:27 PM ET | Delete
Didn't see that one, thrasher, but no I would not say that punching someone in the groin is okay. I may be a Penguins fan, but I won't defend any player - even a Penguin - for gross misconduct like that.
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