Hockey goaltenders are like football quarterbacks in that they need to be protected with different rules. They’re always vulnerable by nature of the position and from wearing unique equipment. The rules don’t seem to have been helping much over the past few months mind you, and goalies the league over are getting increasingly frustrated by it.
Carey Price was run in to by New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri on December 8th, and he took major exception to it. With Palmieri laying down and defenceless, Price aimed a foreceful punch at the back of his head. Once that landed, Jeff Petry began dragging the body of Palmieri across the crease. Price then switched targets and levied two solid blocker shots to the ribs. These were obviously intentional, purposeful body shots and he showed no sign of stopping. He even paused slightly between punches just to make sure he’d hit the moving target. These weren’t the wild frenzied punches of a guy who’d finally lost his cool. These were the calm, calculated strokes reminiscent of a serial killer making sure to sever just the right body part.
Video: Montreal Canadiens
The two major arguing points are whether or not what Carey Price did is just part of the game, and whether or not Palmieri actually did anything wrong. To me, one doesn’t justify the other.
I get that some people have the mentality of if you’re going to drive the net, you’re going to pay the price. They don’t call it a dirty area for no reason. I’ve spent many a shift taking a beating on my back from cross checks and slashes while holding my ground in front, and often enough I ended up in the net under a pile up after the whistle. It does indeed come with the territory. Yes, I’ve been punched a time or two. I understood that getting pummeled by a blocker was a real possibility, but I also would expect anyone who did that to me would get the appropriate penalty. That did happen here.
Price was handed a double minor for roughing. According to the rulebook, technically there wasn’t enough to give him a match penalty. An official would have to really be sure it was a direct blow to the head COMBINED with a belief of intent to injure. And this only applies to the head shot, not the body shots which are just roughing by any standard.
If the on ice officials played their part, did the NHL Department of Player Safety? I guess that depends on what school you come from. If you’re from the Billy Smith, Ron Hextall regime then it’s fair game both ways. I like a little reminder from the goalies now and then that they have a right to battle for their space. Plus these were body shots which I’m sure don’t tickle but aren’t automatically life threatening. The major problem I have with it is I have my doubts Price missed Palmieri’s head on purpose with the first one. The on ice officials have to judge whether head contact was made. The Department of Player Safety has to think about what they want in or out of the game. I wonder if the Montreal netminder may not have switched to body shots if Petry hadn’t intervened. But that’s just a hypothetical and all in all I think they were right to let this one go.
Having said that, to answer the second point, I’m only ok with the Price no suspension because I didn’t think he did enough to get one. I don’t think Palmieri “had it coming” just from going in to that area.