In this Head-to-Head debate between Andy E. and myself, we will weigh in on some questionable hits over the course of the last few seasons.
This debate was sparked by Saturday night's hit by Chicago's Ben Eager on Toronto's Mikhail Grabovski. This hit got us riled up; we were both furious, being Leaf fans.
This made us think back upon other hits that were "questionable," and we discovered we had quite different opinions on some of these hits.
The Great Debate
Tyler: That was Darcy Tucker on Sami Kapanen. It seemed very clear to me that this hit was dirty. Tucker began going after Kapanen way before the puck began to approach him.
Sure, by the time Tucker hit him it could be argued that Kapanen was in possession of the puck, but if you ask me, the puck was not in Kapanen's possession at the time of the hit.
Tucker's hit was too early and the hit was illegal.
Andy: If that hit was dirty, then my name’s Edwardo Lee. First off, Sami Kapanen was skating in a pretty stiff position. You learn this when you’re first learning to skate—it’s one of the first rules—you must always bend your knees.
Perhaps if his knees had been bent he would’ve just stumbled.
Secondly, you have to always keep your head up. You can’t skate with your head down and not expect to be taken down.
Yes, Kepanen did not have possession of the puck, but Darcy Tucker did not go for him before the puck approached him. Tucker followed the puck through, and when he began to turn towards Kapenen, the puck was ahead of him. This was a hockey hit folks.
Tyler: Tucker did not follow the puck. He clearly started turning towards Kapanen before the puck was coming to him. He was lucky the puck got there when it did or it would have been bad news for him and the Leafs.
Tyler: Ouch! Brian Campbell hammered R.J Umberger there. Umberger missed the rest of the playoffs (although Philly was eliminated during that round), but Campbell didn't skip a beat and he shouldn't have.
Although Campbell did in fact come off his right foot, if you look carefully at his left foot it stayed planted on the ice. It is only a penalty if both feet come off the ice. In this case only one did. The hit was clean. No doubt.
Andy: There is no way that was a clean hit! You just can’t hit a guy in the middle of the ice. If you see a guy skating along the boards, fine, you can hit him. But you can’t hit a guy at center ice!
True, it’s not a written rule, but come on guys. If you hit a guy against the boards, he just walks there and gets up in a while. Hit a guy on center ice, you can send him flying out and he could land on his back or head which could lead to a concussion or spinal injury.
It might be a clean hit, but it was a cheap shot. No wait, let me rephrase that. It might be a legal hit, but it was a dirty hit.
Tyler: That's bull shit! It doesn't matter where you hit a player. You said yourself that it's not in the rulebook that you can't hit at centre ice!
Andy: You can’t get a “hard hit,” and a “dirty hit” mixed up.
This hit was completely legal, only that Steve Downy pushed a little harder than he had to. Also, it wasn’t like Downy just decided to go for McAmmond, he was just going for the puck, and saw an opportunity to get a hit, and did so.
Everyone who plays hockey knows a hit can affect the momentum of the game and perhaps Downy was attempting that. He committed the hit correctly. It was completely legal, and he didn’t even raise both of his feet until he made contact.
It’s only illegal if you lift both of your feet before the hit. This was a completely legal and clean hit, just a hard one.
Tyler: Wow, I didn't know Steve Downie was an Olympics' high jumper. What was he trying to do, jump over McAmmond?
Andy, I don't even see how you disagree with me. Downie came off his feet by at least a foot when, and definitely before, he hit McAmmond. That's all there is to say. The video speaks for itself.
Andy: Tyler, my friend, there’s much for you to learn about life. It’s human nature to react to something with a jump. Downy was probably as stunned as McAmmond was, but he didn’t do it fully on purpose.
Sure he intended to do the hit, but not to knock out McAmmond. Yes, he jumped, but that’s human instinct. Let’s not forget, he went head first into the boards. It was just a really hard hit, nothing dirty. He hit him with his shoulder, not with his hip, not with his elbow, but his shoulder. Therefore the hit was just hard, not dirty.
Andy: Clean no doubt. First off, who doesn’t want to kill Sean Avery? Jagr simply pushed Avery out of the way, it’s as simple as that. Avery dumped the puck, and Jagr was trying to regain possession and wouldn’t let anyone stand in his way.
As for Sean Avery, suck it up buttercup. This isn’t soccer; you don’t dive out and throw yourself when you get hit. It wasn’t even a hard hit, just a soft one to push him out of the way.
Sean Avery, it’s either the whole NHL picks on you, or you pick on the whole NHL. Which one’s it going to be? I think we all know the answer.
Tyler: Oh come on! Look at this! That hit was so dirty it messed up Avery’s motor skills and he thought he was a fish jumping out of the water or something! How else would you explain that extra jump at the end? It’s not like he was diving and trying to draw a penalty, that just isn’t Avery style.
Andy: I hate to tell you this Tyler, but Avery has no style. Sean is more of a crybaby than you were when you said I couldn’t win two BR up and coming awards because you only managed to win one.
Tyler: Is everything just cupcakes and sprinkles to you Andy!?! ;)
Coming soon: “The Leafs This Week,” The youcastr radio show that will be hosted by Tyler Hill and Andy Echavarria. If you like this debate you will like the show. Stay tuned for more details coming soon in our Checking the Laundry series.