Well two days in and two hits that will have people looking 50/50 at the Department of Player Safety. In fact they probably welcome this ‘distraction’ to get away from the hiring of Chris Pronger and the interesting press that has arrived with that decision.
Back to the task at hand, we have had our first knee on knee incident of the season that needs to be looked at. It’s a tough one on Girardi, he basically sticks his knee out because he is out of position, it’s a reflex action, nothing more. I don’t think there is intent to injure in the movement, or really an intent to hurt. So I classed it as ‘separate from the puck’, the system doesn’t have a ‘reflex’ factor in it, so it is the best I can do.
Note the system doesn’t take into account the result of the play in relation to Statsny and any injury inflicted upon him, it is the action that needs to be changed, and it seems as though the only way to take this reflex action out of the game is to punish the players financially, missing 7 games for something like this seems a lot, but should make Girardi think twice before doing it again.
Gudas is an interesting one, Upshall had his head down, so he has some fault in this, however if Gudas really wanted to keep the puck in the zone a simple poke check would have taken the puck away from Upshall and Gudas could have followed through with a hip check after the puck went lose.
Instead he decided to go for the ‘statement’ hit, and he got Upshall flush with his elbow, but his elbow was still tucked up against his body at the time of contact. It was a conscious decision by Gudas to ‘go after’ Upshall, and that is fine, you just cant hit a player directly in the head. Players have to be smarter than that in this day and age. 11 games seems fair, I don’t think Gudas went after Upshall’s head, it just happened to be there at the point of contact, in the new NHL the onus is on the hitter not the hittee.