Brandon Tanev can count himself a pretty lucky guy. Not only did he avoid a suspension for his stupid hit on Colton Sissons, he also somehow didn’t have to fight anyone on Nashville after the fact. The incident happened on November 25th in a game between the Jets and the Predators.
The Winnipeg forward was closing down his man Sissons on the half boards. The puck was rolling along the boards from the corner up to Sissons, and just as he was about to get possession Tanev pushed him head first into the glass.
Let’s get it out of the way. Sissons turns his back. That’s the thing most have clung to in defence on Tanev. That’s ALWAYS the defence. But my readers will know not everyone who turns is trying to dupe someone or suck someone in. Especially in this day and age it’s well known many players are going to hit anyway, and it’s been made clear by Player Safety that they’re fine with it as well, as evidenced by the no suspension trend carried on in this case. So no one turns their back to save themselves anymore. This turn was all about making a legitimate hockey play.
Sissons knows the puck is going toward the point. He also knows he’s obviously going to be first to the puck. Unless Tanev is a complete idiot, he should know both these things too. His angle of approach indicates he does realize this and he sets up to close down Sissons by lining up with his right (inside) shoulder.
If everyone had stayed on the same path, Sissons would have most likely run out of room and been eliminated against the boards with a clean shoulder to shoulder rub out. Remember though, Sissons was first to the space. It’s his right to defend it. Instead of letting the hit happen, he changed his point of attack and tried to cut down the wall toward to corner. There’s no way this could possibly come as a surprise to Tanev. Anyone who’s ever played hockey would have tried to do the same thing with a player approaching down from the top of the slot like Tanev did.
Evene if you disagree with that, there was plenty of time and space for Tanev to back out of his hit whether Sissons “turned” or not, and Tanev gives himself away on this with the video evidence. Sissons isn’t the only one who turns, folks. Tanev changes direction and follows right behind him. You can see his feet drag the ice in a stop as he pivots himself around to adjust to the new point of impact.
Here’s where the mentality of players needs to change. Tanev went in to that situation with hitting on his mind. I don’t understand why. Sissons had his back to the ice. He wasn’t in full possession. He had stopped short and had very little speed. He was ripe for the picking. Tanev should have been thinking of engaging in a controlled puck battle. He should be targeting the puck, the hips, and the hands. How do I know he wasn’t? Really think about what he does instead.
He puts two hands up at his own chest. His stick goes straight up in the air. He hardly even slows down. Not much chance of getting the puck that way. He pushes through the top of the numbers, right in the back of the shoulder blades, shoving the head and neck downward and forward to take the brunt of the impact. He shows ZERO sign of even thinking of playing the puck, and he actively makes the hit more dangerous with his technique.
In what seems to be a weekly statement by everyone, if the league is truly serious about protection against brain injuries, it needs to really and truly focus on eliminating unnecessary, non-hockey play hits such as this one.