Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Sutton hit

As I am working the Buffalo/Boston series for HNIC during the first round I am surrounded by people who are not Senators fans nor are they media who regularly follow or cover the Senators. With no bias to be found I can tell you there is no hockey person I have spoken to here in Buffalo who does not think the Sutton hit was a clean, legal, hockey hit. None were surprised that there was no supplementary discipline.

Most of the surprise is that a veteran like Leopold was caught like that. Sutton’s continued use of that move is because players continue to come down the wing with their head's down, apparently unaware that he is on the ice and he has done this many, many times. If something works keep doing it until it doesn’t.

Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik admitted as much after the game when he was asked about the hit. He said it was a clean hit and they had all watched video of Sutton’s tendencies both good and bad.

It continues to beg the question, why aren’t today’s players more tuned in to who is on the ice and what they tend to do. It was the same story after Chris Neil hit Tampa’s Viktor Hedman. It drove him backwards and he suffered a concussion when his head hit the boards while falling. It was a clean hit from the front, and Hedman saw it coming but said he didn’t think Neil would hit him. What did you expect him to do? Did no one tell him what Chris Neil does for a living? Did no one warn him that #25 plays hard, finishes his checks and will drop the gloves? How could this have possibly been a surprise?

Did Daniel Alfredsson complain when he was injured after a hit in Pittsburgh? He blamed himself for allowing himself to be vulnerable. Just because a player gets injured doesn’t mean that the play that injured him was illegal.

See you at the rink.

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