With a crusade on head shots being all the rage, it seemed likely that Dallas Stars defenceman Jason Demers would receive some form of extra discipline for his needless hit on New York Islander player Cal Clutterbuck on Sunday that earned him a five minute boarding major and an automatic game misconduct (see bonehead decision by Demers). This was Demers’ second major penalty this season and by rule, once a player is handed a second major penalty in the same season he must sit out the next game. The question should have been about how much extra he would get.
Instead, in a contradictory move the NHL not only didn’t enforce any supplementary discipline, but also rescinded the major penalty issued by the in game official. They actually wiped it from the record.
The league is stating that not only do we not think this is suspension or even fine worthy, we also think the hit was so clean we’re going out of our way to take away the mandatory 1 game suspension as per our own rulebook. We also want to make it clear we think the referee misjudged the situation and we feel this so strongly that we’re willing to allow this player be exempt from missing his next game.
At this point there is absolutely zero understanding of what exactly the league is trying to eliminate from the game. What is the purpose of a hit anyway? In a hockey strategy sense (as the league should be looking at it), the purpose of a hit is to separate the attacking player from the puck. That’s it. Was Clutterbuck separated from the puck? Yes. Did the hit from Demers cause this separation? NO!!! The puck was gone and Clutterbuck had already taken himself out of the play on his own BEFORE Demers even decided to engage him. Demers skated from in front of his own net all the way out to the top of the circle on the opposite side of the ice. He then stood beside another Islander player and had to leap frog away from him just to initiate contact on Clutterbuck. The decision to make the hit at all at this point is as brainless as a defenceman going out of his way to be way up on the high half wall in d zone coverage.
So what type of hit does the league want to get rid of more? A completely unnecessary hit that clearly endangers both the hitter and a defenceless player without the puck who is in an easily recognizable extremely vulnerable position a foot from the boards and is no longer involved in the play and should not expect to be hit, OR an otherwise clean open ice hit by a player in full control of his actions with no elbow, no lunge, no charge, no stick, to a player who is in full possession of the puck, is an obvious offensive threat, and should fully expect to be hit, that just happens to have contact to the head?


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