Despite cries from Sidney Crosby and his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates, the Washington Post is reporting that the NHL has ruled that they will not discipline the Washington Capitals' David Steckel for his hit on Crosby during Saturday’s Winter Classic.
If you did not see the play, it occurred near the end of the second period. Crosby had his head turned up ice as the play moved in that direction when Steckel, who appeared to be following the puck, slammed into Crosby. Steckel’s shoulder hit Crosby in the head and the Penguins’ star crumbled to the ice.
The CBC announcers commented on the play, “It didn’t look like Steckel was really looking at him, but there’s your description of a blindside. He’s [Steckel] trying to go up ice, I don’t think that’s something that was premeditated, but definitely shoulder on his head.”
“I can’t really comment on it,” Crosby said in the postgame press conference. “Maybe the refs didn't even see it. A lot of people didn't, but I don't know. Got in my head, that's for sure, but I don't even know how it developed."
On Monday, Crosby had changed his attitude on the hit, telling the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “How tall is Steckel? I find it hard to believe that his shoulder hit me in the head...at 6'5"...by accident."
Crosby’s teammate Brooks Oprik also offered his opinion: "It was definitely dirty. Sid was just skating by, and he definitely wasn't near the puck. It looked like he went a little bit lateral on him, which was the dirty part of it.”
Mike Rupp also offered his take on the incident: "No one saw it. If anybody would have seen it, I promise there would have been a reaction. No one saw anything. Sid didn't even know what happened. Any time the puck isn't there, and you finish your hit on a guy isn't good. We aren't happy about it. It was not a clean play."
The replay seems to refute Rupp’s statement as the black pants of an on ice official can clearly be seen right at the point when Steckel makes impact with Crosby.
For his part, Steckel said, "I was just trying to turn and go the other way on a 3-on-1. I can't say anything until I see the replay. It wasn't on purpose, I promise you that."
The Capitals next game against the Penguins will be on Sunday February 6th at the Verizon Center in Washington DC. The game will be televised nationally on NBC in the U.S.