Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Short Entry Tonight

I just returned home from witnessing what can only be described as a thrashing. The Hamilton Bulldogs were visiting the Manitoba Moose tonight, and one team found their hands, legs, and the back of the net often. All of that info will be brought forth tomorrow in a Thursday edition of Antler Banter. Tonight, I want to post one thing before retiring for the evening. This kind of hit is something that will get a crowd going, but it's something that I believe demonstrates a complete lack of respect that players have for one another today.

I appreciate North Dakota's Matt Frattin's opportunistic hit on Minnesota's Kevin Wehrs, but I have one problem with this hit. It's not that Frattin hits Wehrs' head. It's not that he wound up from the blueline.

My issue is that he never attempted to play the puck in any way, shape, or form.

The original reason for the bodycheck in hockey was to create separation between the puck-carrier and the puck. In the instance above, the intent was obviously different. And the more I watch the replay, the more I am disgusted with the hit.

My call, if I were officiating, would have been a two-minute minor for charging, a five-minute major for a check to the head, a five-minute major for boarding, a ten-minute misconduct, and a game misconduct.

In reality, Frattin got a major contact-to-the-head penalty that led to five minutes in the box. He was suspended for one NCAA game a day later. Wehrs got to lie on the ice motionless as his teammates came to his defence, and ended up with a mild concussion.

While I'm far from calling for a player's head, I do think that the NCAA should do more about cultivating a culture of respect in the collegiate hockey system. Had Frattin actually tried to make a play on the puck, the damage he inflicted on Wehrs wouldn't have been as severe, and North Dakota may have generated a scoring chance. Instead, Frattin spent the next five minutes in the penalty box.

Let's review:
  • Frattin gained speed for approximately 50 feet before heading into the corner.
  • Frattin didn't make any attempt for the puck along the boards.
  • Frattin left his feet to throw the check.
  • Frattin led with his shoulder, making contact with Wehrs' head.
Personally, if I was in charge of the NCAA, Frattin's season would be over. But that's just my opinion. And I welcome your opinions. If you were making the decision in terms of Frattin's suspension, would you give him any more than one game? Would you suspend him at all?

Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Unknown said...

I'm on the fence about this hit. It's not that I think it was clean per se, but what made this hit worse than it should have been was the maroon player shying away from the contact. He opted to poke at the puck with one hand and lean back to hopefully avoid a hit. This left him tremendously vulnerable and I think it was too late at that point for the white player to check himself. Without the injury this is a run of the mill play at the NHL level. Now do I think that a player should skate from the blue line with the sole intention of hitting the player regardless of whether or not he needs to be hit? No, but this is what young players are taught each and every week in minor hockey: "Finish your check, finish your check." They're taught to play smart in regards to protecting themselves but never in regards to protecting their opponent. I would have penalized this player for charging or something similar and perhaps ejected him from the game but it's a tough case to suspend a player for something that happens in practically every game (the hit not the injury). The rules need to be changed and more importantly our kids need to be taught some respect instead of this 'blame the victim' mentality they're imbued with from an early age.

Teebz said...

Excellent comment, Blake. And I agree: the respect factor that seems to be forgotten in today's game is shown here.