Superstar rookie Patrick Laine of the Winnipeg Jets was handed a one way ticket to concussionville this afternoon while taking a pass in the neutral zone.

Not surprisingly, like most huge hits these days, this one by Jake McCabe of the Buffalo Sabres sparked a massive debate and it’s still just hours old. The range of debate topics is perhaps the most surprising.

It’s not just your typical “was the head contacted/did he leave his feet” debate. It’s a real discussion on the core values of the game itself. Here’s a few topics and my thoughts on them.

1)Where’s the respect? Should McCabe have even hit an 18 year old superstar in such a vulnerable position?

– Yes. This wasn’t a predatory targeting. It was an opportunistic finished check on a guy in open ice.

2 a)Why is there always a fight after a clean hit? It’s ridiculous. OR
2 b)Stand up for your team mates. If someone hits your star, he gets hit. That’s always been hockey.

– They’re both right. If it’s a star and he’s really caught by a guy who takes a liberty, challenge him. BUT this happens almost every big clean hit, star or not, borderline or not. It’s too much to be about integrity. It’s not honourable to jump a player at every single chance. If you want to settle it, stand toe to toe and settle it evenly. In this case, I would expect someone to retaliate. That’s the future of your franchise. But either square up with him and duel respectfully or take a number and give him an honourable grease later on. Don’t take a run, cross check him to head and then swing away. How is that two for roughing?? Even if this is the right thing to do,the right way to defend a team mate, you do it and take the discipline knowing it was worth it. A suspension should come from the head targeting on a defenceless player.

3 a)Greasy hit: A defenceless guy with his head down and he gets blindsided! OR
3 b)He needs to keep his head up. Got caught being a hot dog.

– They’re both wrong. The hit itself was clean. Paul Maurice (Winnipeg’s coach) said he had no problem with it and that was an honourable thing to do. There’s no inappropriate head contact. No excessive force. No follow through. He got in Laine’s path and Laine smacked into the wall. Hockey play on a puck carrier. But Laine didn’t get caught doing anything wrong either, and for the record it wasn’t a suicide pass by Scheiffle. He drew a defender, then made a nice little horizontal outlet pass for Laine to skate in to. If Laine had looked up ice, he would have seen open ice. McCabe comes quietly in from the blindside(perfectly legal). By the time he makes the hit he’s out fully in front anyway so that’s a non issue, but the point is Laine wasn’t in danger when he made the decision to focus on receiving the pass and gaining control. Only once McCabe made his read and started to angle did it become a problem. Laine does sense McCabe and sees him. That’s why he never actually picks up the pass cleanly. It ends up going by him. That’s because he goes into self preservation mode, but too late to avoid contact. Watch McCabe’s path. He starts to skate more toward his own goal than anything, trying to get to the space Laine is heading into. Only once he gets his defensive angle does he realize Laine is focused on the puck. That’s when he stops up. The whole play by both guys was a typical reactionary hockey play.

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