Ryan Reaves has made a name for himself around the NHL as a punishing hitter you always have to be aware of.
With a recent string of so many big hits in a short span, it’s come time to give some sort of character judgement in order to assess whether his enthusiasm for hitting should be curbed somewhat before he takes it too far.
His latest victim is Calgary’s Garnet Hathaway, who was caught reaching his hand in the air for the puck after it was flipped out of the St. Louis zone.
Reaves saw his opportunity, lined himself up, and glided into a solid hit. He nailed Hathaway directly in the head.
On the outset, I don’t see a problem with this hit at all. Hathaway is eligible, and Reaves keeps his arm and elbow tucked in, stick down, and doesn’t drive through the hit. It’s just a guy caught in a bad spot during a hockey play.
Hathaway shifted his position at the last second and exposed his head, causing the direct blow. Hard to fault Reaves on this one.
The only thing is, Hathaway was in a situation where he was not going to take a predictable course of action. It wasn’t a regular, reasonably readable angle or play. There is no way Reaves could possibly know where his point of impact would be.
This becomes the issue. Is that an argument for suspending Reaves? Should he not bail out of a hit if he isn’t sure he can hit the guy safely? Or is this an argument for not suspending Reaves? Is it enough to only ask the hitter to control the things he can control, such as proper hitting technique and not using excessive force?
What do you think?