14 December 2011

Quick thought on the Bogosian hit on Bouchard.

Last night was a wonderful game to watch between Winnipeg and Minnesota.  It was a tough one for the Wild to lose on a delay of game penalty, but both goaltenders really wanted it, and both teams were quick and generated plenty of changes.  For 58 minutes, this was among the two or three most entertaining games to watch this season, and it is what hockey should be.  Then of course one of the ugliest injuries I have ever seen happened behind Winnipeg's net.

Hockey Wilderness already has a good piece and the videos up, and makes a good case for why Zach Bogosian should be suspended for his cross-check on Bouchard, so please click there to get the background and the videos if you haven't already seen it.

I don't completely agree that Bouchard had his back turned to Bogosian at the time of the hit.  Contrary to what most Minnesota partisans are saying, I believe Bouchard was still in the process turning his back to attempt to secure the puck, but I don't think he is turned long enough to show his numbers to Bogosian to prevent the hit.

All of that said, the fact is Bogosian led with his stick, and made an illegal cross check.  Furthermore, like the Brodziak hit against Koptiar on Thursday, Bouchard is that seemingly magical 6 to 10 foot distance from the boards which makes a boarding call likely.  Just because Bouchard hasn't established position, does not mean he has opened himself up to a cross check.  I have a huge problem with people like NHL network's Kelly Chase saying "that's how you're taught to play," and people that make the case that since Bouchard was turning into it, he got what he deserved.  Basically, people making this defense are saying that players turn their backs are open season.

This is such an asinine attitude.  This is tantamount to saying once a player turns his back, the hitting player can take any action he wants and blame it on the player that turned his back.  It's "fair game" to borrow a phrase from Sabres coach Lindy Ruff.

(On an aside, I played full check hockey as a youth, I was taught to finish hits, but by using shoulder contact, using the side of the whole body, not by cross checking in the back.  I have no idea what foolishness Kelly Chase was taught).

Players turning their backs do share responsibility, and I think that's a point discipline czar Head of the Department of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan, to his credit, is making sure it is considered.  But that consideration ends once the contact is illegal, if it doesn't than players will be able to not only justify cross-checks, but spears, swinging sticks a the head, and all they have to do is recite this foolish old guard mantra of "it's his fault, he turned his back."

If Bogsian makes a legal shoulder check here instead of a cross-check to the back, the injury to Bouchard probably isn't this severe.  Even with the severity of Bouchard's injury, if Bogosian made a legal shoulder hit, even to Bouchard's back, because of the way Bouchard was turning I would be content that Bogosian did what he fine if he gets by with no suspension.  That should be the extent to which a player putting himself in a bad position takes responsibility, the player in a bad position, should under no circumstances, ever, take responsibility for an illegal act by an opposing player.

But Bogosian decided to use his stick, there must be discipline for that.  He commit a reckless act that could've been penalized in two ways, and an injury resulted on the play.  That seems like all the Shanahammer needs.  Especially if Bouchard can get suspended two games for Calvert high sticking himself.

(For what it's worth, I spun one game on nhlwheelofjustice.com)

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