There were some questionable things seen in the NHL and AHL over the last couple of days. We're not talking questionable uniforms, although I still cringe when I see the New York Islanders or Iowa Chops. No, this has to do with the actions of players. And will probably generate some news as to their actions. Both players are young, but their actions were more than unnecessary at the time, and both parties will most likely be fined. At least that's what I think should happen. Then again, I don't work at the NHL Offices in New York, so I could be way off. Either way, let's take a look at the events.
AHL: Tuukka Rask snaps after shootout
Video compliments of ABC6.
The Albany River Rats and Providence Bruins had just played to a 0-0 regulation time draw, forcing the shootout to determine the winner. Now, I'm not sure what referee Frederic L'Ecuyer was looking at on the first shot as it's clear that Rask poke-checks Albany's Jakub Petruzalek, but L'Ecuyer allows the goal. Personally, I would have been quite angry right there. There was no consultation with the linesman standing to the right of the net either, and he had a clear look at the poke-check as well.
However, Rask went ballistic after it appears that Albany's Reed Harrison hits either the goalpost or the crossbar on his shot, and L'Ecuyer awards both the goal and the game to Albany. Again, no consultation with linesman if he was unsure or Rask had raised a concern with the goal. Why isn't he consulting the linesman in these cases just to be certain?
Anyway, Rask is most likely looking at a fine at least for the Tomahawk-throw of the Rask's stick across the ice, throwing the milk crate on the ice, and the fit that Rask throws as he leaves the ice.
"He went backwards and stopped the play and waited three seconds and then shot it," Rask said to The Bruins Blog in regards to Petruzalek's goal after the game. "I guess the guy didn’t believe it either because he stopped and then took the shot. As long as the ref doesn’t blow the whistle, it’s game on I guess."
Personally, Petruzalek's goal shouldn't have counted. Reed's would have to be seen in slow-motion, but it legitimately appeared to hit the goalpost. If anything, Rask should be fined for his tantrum, but referee Frederic L'Ecuyer should also be fined or reprimanded. It's this kind of thing that leaves a sour taste in one's mouth when looking at the shootout.
The second incident is a little more serious in my view.
NHL: Evgeni Malkin's hit on Wayne Simmonds
I'll be honest here: that was brutal. With 14 seconds remaining in the game, all Simmonds was trying to do was poke-check the puck out of the zone. Malkin, recognizing the race for the puck, deliberately threw the hit on a vulnerable Simmonds. This is the definition of a deliberate check to the head.
Look, Malkin is a great player. There's no doubt about that. Simmonds is a good, young player for the Kings. Both players are passionate about the game, and that's good for everyone. Malkin, however, cannot be allowed to throw a hit like this. It goes exactly to what NHLPA boss Paul Kelly had said at the GM Meetings earlier this month.
"We would like the referees to have a menu of options if one player intentionally and recklessly targets the head of another unsuspecting player, the same as when there is a hit from behind," Kelly told TSN. "We realize hits like this are currently dealt with, but we think it should be a specific rule that encourages the referee to call a minor or a major depending upon the severity and circumstances."
Personally, Malkin deserves a one-game suspension for targeting Simmonds head and not playing the puck whatsoever. But again, I don't make the rules, and I don't work for the NHL Offices.
Stuff like this ruins the game. A dirty hit by Malkin with 14 seconds left while up 4-1 will only cause more dirty play. A referee who costs a team one point in the shootout could have major implications on playoff races. Rask's reaction was highly unprofessional, but two wrongs don't make it right.
Do the right thing, NHL and AHL. Even if it is very unpopular.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!