I figured since everyone else was talking about Steve Downie knocking Dean McAmmond into next week that it was time to throw my take on the incident out there. Why? Because I think a lot of people are letting their passion get in the way of reason, like they often do when incidents like this happen in sports.
There’s no question that when you see something like this happen it can make you sick to your stomach watching a player lay there motionless. It’s certainly not unreasonable to be pissed at Steve Downie’s unnecessary aggressiveness, but the question here as I’ve heard people claim he should be suspended for 20+ games is just how illegal was the hit?
I’m sure you’ve seen it already, but here's the video on YouTube
Did he leave his feet?
Of course he left his feet, but the real question is whether or not he left his feet BEFORE contact was made. Unfortunately, there it’s not exactly clear in the video. It looks to me like his right foot is still on the ground when contact is made.
Was it charging?
Absolutely not. He was clearly coasting well before contact was made.
Was it elbowing?
Absolutely not. His elbow was down when contact was made.
Was it boarding?
Yes. Dean McAmmond was hit into the boards, and for some reason this is going unnoticed by most people. We’re all used to traditional boarding where a player facing the boards gets hit head first into the boards, but boarding doesn’t require that player be facing the boards. I’m sure Flames fans remember their team getting called for boarding Martin St. Louis in the Finals prior to the lockout. While I still think that was one of the worst calls ever, St. Louis was hit backwards into the boards so there’s definitely a precedence for calling boarding in this situation.
Was it interference?
It might seem fickle to even be asking this question given the severity of the hit, but it’s actually quite pertinent. When McAmmond went behind the net, he passed the puck to the front of the net and by the time he was hit he hadn’t had the puck for a few strides and the puck had already been touched by other players. At that point, McAmmond has no reason to expect to be hit and he was busy watching to see if his pass resulted in a goal from a teammate.
Should Downie be suspended?
A lot of people argue that had McAmmond gotten right up from the hit that we wouldn’t be talking about this any longer. They might be right, but he should still be suspended, for one reason only. It's not because he was allegedly charging. It's not because of a blow to the head. He deserves a suspension because McAmmond didn't have the puck and you simply cannot take that sort of a liberty on a player that is no longer in the play.
If he had the puck in that situation, then as far as I’m concerned you give Downie a boarding penalty and it’s over with... because penalties and suspensions should be about the action, not the result of an incident.