I had a co-worker come up to me today an ask me if I saw the Tootoo hit last night. I told him that I had not, and he proceeded to get all excited, exclaiming that it was,
"Just like Downie!! Oh man it was the same thing again!!"
So I figured I should take a look myself to see what really happened. So I went to tsn.ca and watched the highlights from the Coyotes-Predators game from last night (where Gretzky's bunch handed the Preds a stunning 6-3 defeat). What I saw was Daniel Winnik coming out from behind the net, carrying the puck - a rookie with his head down - and getting popped. Was it a charge by Tootoo? Yes it was. Was it more than a minor penalty? In a peewee game yes, but in the NHL it's debatable.
So back to my co-workers comparison to Steve Downie. There are some major fundamental differences in what happened between Steve Downie's hit on Dean McAmmond, and Tootoo's hit on Winnik.
1. Winnik had the puck, McAmmond did not. And it can be argued that McAmmond did just get rid of the puck, but had Downie been paying any attention to the puck at all he would have known that. The game is about the puck, and all Downie was focused on there was obliterating Dean McAmmond. Was he trying to take his head off, I don't think so, but he was trying to hit him as hard as he could, he got a little carried away. As for Tootoo, like I said, Winnik had the puck, that is what you are supposed to do to the puck carrier (kind of - it still has to be clean).
2. Downie had decided from the second he got hit along the boards, that he was going to run somebody, Tootoo was just trying to spark his team after the game got a little on edge. Last night there had just been a fight, the game was getting a little tense, Tootoo wanted to lay the big hit, he saw a chance and he took it. Now again, he did take about 3 strides too many so it is most definitely a charge, but it was not like Downie who had him lined from nearly outside the blueline and just trucked right through him.
3. According to the NHL and all of their replays, Downie leaves his feet. To me, it was very close as to whether or not he really did jump into him, or if it was just after contact he went flying up in the air. He may have jumped an inch or two before contact, but the NHL has better replays I'm sure than what I get too see, and nice high definition screens and all that fancy stuff, so if they say he left his feet first, I'll take their word for it. But regardless of that, from what I saw last night Tootoo did not appear to leave his feet so that is another point for him over Downie, (Although I will be looking at that specifically a little later - I will post if I change my mind on him leaving his feet).
4. The point of contact in the Downie case was originally a shoulder to head, immediately followed by a follow through of an elbow to the head. Downie put his whole shoulder/elbow/arm into that hit and followed it through. Tootoo just had his shoulder down and hit him, unfortunately for Winnik his head was down, and it got clipped on Tootoo's shoulder. This was not Tootoo's intention on that play, if he wanted to take his head, you would have known it for sure, and Winnik would be in the hospital right now with a massive concussion.
So there are four major differences in why Steve Downie gets a 20 game suspension, and Jordin Tootoo in my opinion won't even get a review. Well, he might get a review and maybe a fine or short suspension. But if he does it may only be Colin Campbell sending a message to the rest of the league because of what has happened so far this season (Downie, Boulerice, Rypien, Sutton, etc). Tootoo would just be the unfortunate victim of that message.