Boston’s David Pastrnak was suspended two games by the National Hockey League Department of Player Safety for his high hit to the head of New York Ranger defenceman Dan Girardi.
This was 100% the right decision by the league and I agree fully with the analysis on the video released by the Department when announcing the decision.
For one of the first times, the Department of Player Safety video not only says what went wrong but actually offered some advice on how it could have been done properly, and it echos what I’ve been saying so far this year.
My season mantra has been a hit isn’t something that’s “thrown”, “finished”, or “committed to”. This Pastrnak hit is a great example of how lunging forward can only cause problems. If the Bruins forward had just kept gliding in a low, controlled hockey stance, he would have legally caught Girardi in the chest. Because he tried to add extra force and damage on the hit by lunging forward, when his target was actually further away than he thought, when his body didn’t hit anything right away it continued rising with the momentum and eventually struck Girardi in the head. If he had just kept low and held his posture, he could have hit Girardi at any moment, seconds before or seconds after, and the contact would have been legal.
As an added and more important safety feature, if he had stayed low and controlled without lunging he also would have been able to back out of the hit at any time, seconds before or seconds after, had Girardi’s head shifted position at the last moment.
I hope Player Safety keeps acknowledging these poor choices with suspensions. It’s been pretty good so far. Also, I really hope it continues to explain and promote what the right choice could have been.