Sunday, 5 February 2012

Why I Like This Hit

There was a massive dished out last night in the game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Boston Bruins. You've probably seen it on every single newscast and sports highlight package, and HBIC has the video for you below as well. But of all the good, clean hits delivered this season, Brooks Orpik's hit on Daniel Paille had one major aspect missing that made me grin from ear to ear. You won't see what I'm talking about on any highlight or sports show because what I am referring to never happened. If you watch the video, the clean, legal check by Orpik on Paille results in... nothing. Yes, you read that correctly: NOTHING.

Here's the hit that I am referring to in the above paragraph. Watch Paille fly as Orpik makes solid contact. And note what happens after the big hit.

If you watched that video all the way through, there was one major incident missing that nearly all of the big, legal checks in the NHL seem to attract: a fight! After the hit on Paille, though, none of the Bruins come hunting for retribution - a surprising change of heart for NHL players. This is what had me smiling.

Now you might be questioning my sanity as I am happy that a fight didn't break out. While you certainly can question my mental health all you like, I'm going to tell you that clean, legal checks, such as the one we saw Orpik lay on Paille, should never cause a fight to break out. I can't stress this enough - clean checks do not warrant any sort of fisticuffs. Ever.

Far too often, the man throwing the check has to throw down his gloves after delivering a clean hit, and this kind of retaliation needs to stop. A clean hit should be left to stand on its own merits: the hitter should be able to continue to play the game without the threat of retribution hanging over his head, and the hittee should respect that fact that he got caught by a good check.

Now I'm not saying that every check should be allowed to go fight-free. I think that any dirty or malicious check should result in the hitter paying for his misdeed, but a clean check deserves no more retribution than a player dipsy-doodling around a defender. The beaten defender notes the move, and vows not to get beaten the same way again. Like the defender, the hittee who got hit should note how he got caught in a vulnerable position, and vow not to let that happen again. Case closed. Done and done.

Instead, we see fights breaking out whenever a clean check is delivered. I, for one, think that this sort of retribution should be stopped, and I'd like to deliver that responsibility back to the referees.

If a player throws a clean check where the referees both deem the hit to be legal and a fight breaks out between the hitter and another player, I say that the player who jumped in to defend his teammate's honour should be hit with the instigator penalty and given a game misconduct. Of course, the five-minute major would also be applied, but the resulting powerplay should give the hitter's team an advantage. Of course, the hittee's team will also be a man short of the remainder of the game, and I'm pretty sure there will be a coach who will not be impressed with his player being tossed from the game for dropping the gloves after a clean hit.

If, on the other hand, the referees determine that the hit was dirty and/or malicious and a fight breaks out because of it, the hitter should be charged with whatever penalty assessed to him for the dirty hit along with his five-minute major and a ten-minute misconduct. For the player that engaged the hitter in the fight, he would simply serve the five-minute major.

Simply put, clean hits should result in no fights. Dirty hits should see some sort of retribution, and the player who comes to his teammate's defence should not be punished for standing up for his fallen comrade.

Do you agree? What say you, readers: am I off in this way of thinking, or do you agree that fights after clean hits are completely unnecessary? Have you say in the comments, and I'll respond!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Will S said...

I agree on there are too many fights after clean hits.

If a player (or his teammate) starts a fight after getting a clean hit, the least he should get is an extra unsportsmanslike penatly.

Jerry said...

Hi Teebz,

Love the blog - keep up the good work.

I, too, am dumbfounded at the number of fights that result from a nice, clean, solid bodycheck - and making use of the instigator penalty seems like a great way to reduce them.

However, doesn't that put the refs in the position of having to decide if the fight was 'justified' or not based on some earlier perceived 'bad' hit?

Like - 'It's OK, you two can drop the gloves because the hitter came in too low, but not you two because I think that was a good hit'? If it was a bad hit, call the penalty then and give the man advantage.

Just sayin'



Teebz said...

@Jerry - the refs already determine which hits are legal when they assess penalties. In short, if a hit would result in a penalty, it's a dirty hit. The only way to reduce these types of scraps is to penalize the man who starts the fight.

@Raven - I thought of the unsportsmanlike penalty, but I think that there should be a heavier sentence for those that fight after a clean hit. Two minutes in the box versus sitting out the rest of the game is a decision none will take lightly.

Entrainement Hockey said...

IMO there are too many fight after a big clean hit but I think they are some players that has to do their job by getting involve in fight when this kind of things happend ... if they wouldn't there would be less respect IMO.

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