posted by Rocket
Was it a dirty hit? How long will Laraque be suspended?
Those are the questions that will be debated by Canadiens' fans and Red Wings' fans alike for the next day or so until the league offers its opinion and ruling.
The debate follows a knee-on-knee hit by Georges Laraque delivered in the first period of Saturday night's game. Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall had to be helped off the ice and missed the rest of the game after the hit.
Red Wings' management expect Kronwall to miss at least two weeks with "a second-degree, possibly third-degree MCL sprain to his left knee." Red Wings' General Manager Ken Holland said “He’ll certainly be out for a little while. Right now we’re guessing, we need to get pictures, but we’re looking at two-to-three weeks minimum.”
Laraque received only a two-minute minor for tripping on the incident. On the same shift, Laraque was also assessed a four-minute penalty for high-sticking Darren Helm.
While Laraque has a suspension history that will be considered, he's generally not known as a dirty player. In fact, in recent years, its been somewhat the opposite. Laraque has done nothing to sustain his image as one of the most feared enforcers.
Instead, he has spent off-ice time pontificating about 'the code' which is just another polite list of excuses for why he has declined to fight or stand up for his teammates. Laraque instead prefers pre-arranged staged exhibitions with the handful of players in the league that he deems meets the code.
Nevertheless, the verdict from Red Wings management was unequivocal. “Yes, it was dirty," said Holland. "It was knee-on-knee, and I believe knee-on-knee is a dirty play. I don’t know if the referees saw it. I just saw Nik go down and then I got to watch it on TV and video replay.”
Coach Mike Babcock was very direct, "It's unacceptable in hockey to stick your leg out, to have a guy who's going to be out as long as Kronner is now."
Never shy to express his opinion to the media, Laraque offered his own analysis, "There were four refs on the ice and they didn't call anything."
Well, there's just two referees and one of them did assess a two-minute penalty on the play. But who's counting?
Laraque continued, "If they called a match penalty it would be different. There was no intent. There was no reason why I would try to go and hurt him. It was a pure accident, that's why they called it tripping, so I'm not worried at all."
I tend to agree with Laraque that there was no malice. However, the hit was more than just an accident. It seemed like a lazy move by a slow and out-of-shape player who only made his way back into the line-up on Friday after an extended absence.
Expect Laraque to be suspended but for the term to reflect careless or at worst, reckless play. Laraque would have been in line for a rather healthy suspension if it was deemed that there was an intent to injure.
*UPDATE: Georges Laraque will be asked to defend his actions in a conference call on Monday morning with league disciplinarian, Colin Campbell. Despite Laraque's protestations to the contrary, the NHL seems to believe that the knee-on-knee hit was intentional.