Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Hits And Consequences

There will be a lot of time for this pose in Tom Kuhnhackl's future. The Mississauga IceDogs forward launched his body into Kitchener Ranger Ryan Murphy on Friday night, and there was immediate grimacing as Murphy was down and out. The on-ice call was five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct for the German-born Kuhnhackl, a Penguins prospect, but OHL Commissioner David Branch has decided that Kuhnhackl's devastating hit on Murphy will earn him a lot more time off.

First, let's look at the incriminating evidence. I warn you that the hit is vicious, and there are several replays from different angles. Your stomach won't get squeamish, but Murphy looks like he's in a world of hurt.

Kids, that was a vicious and dirty hit, and there was clear and deliberate contact made on Murphy's head last Friday. In short, there was no way that Kuhnhackl was going to avoid any sort of suspension on this one. Traditionally, David Branch has had a heavy hand when it comes to delivering suspensions for hits like these.

It was announced today that Tom Kuhnhackl will sit for a total of twenty games for his check. In its ruling, the OHL noted that Kuhnhackl made contact with the opponent's head and hit a vulnerable, unsuspecting player, and also took into consideration the speed and distance travelled by Kuhnhackl in delivering this vicious check.

You're not going to hear me complain about the length of this suspension. Personally, the NHL has tightened its standards on hits like this, but they still come nowhere close to David Branch. As a point of reference, this is the eighth suspension handed out by the OHL this season of ten games or more. You want justice for a dirty and vicious hit? The OHL is bringing it.

Here's hoping that Ryan Murphy doesn't suffer too long with what appears to be an apparent concussion. Murphy is a great skater and had a good chance of putting on the Team Canada sweater for this season's World Junior Championship, but those plans may have been derailed by one dirty hit. Get well soon, Ryan!

As for Tom Kuhnhackl, think long and hard about what you want to be known for in your hockey career. This could be a defining moment for all the wrong reasons.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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