The Hits That Hurt
Here's why I don't like the Mike Komisarek hit.
Mark Olver never, ever was in possession of the puck. (Note: Many have commented this morning that Olver touched the puck. He may have. But he never possessed it in any meaningful way. Try reading first, people, then comment) Period. It was near him. It went past him. It was either a bad pass he couldn't corral or a good one he flubbed.
But there's no chance he was ever in actual possession making a stick-handling motion of any kind. Olver no more had the puck than Komisarek did.
If you don't have the puck, how can you possibly be fair game for a thundering hit like that Komisarek laid on him Thursday night in Denver?
We could go on. The hit looked a bit late, and it certainly originated as from the blind side, although at the moment of impact Komisarek's shoulder was making contact with the chest/neck/head area of Olver's body.
But no penalty. And, of course, when Avs forward Cameron Gaunce tracked down Komisarek looking for the predictable retaliation fight, no instigator.
See, this is why when the NHL does it's two-day public relations thing down in Boca Raton, and then goes all draconian (and rightfully so) on Matt Cooke, it's still hard to take it's contention that the plan is to crack down on head shots and try to eliminate concussions very seriously.
Komisarek's hit was a hockey play, at least, and there will be those that will argue, as always, that Olver's head should have been up and looking for an opposing player (wasn't his main job to receive a pass from a teammate?) and that having the puck in the general vicinity constitutes possessions.
And you know what? in a traditional sense, they're right. That's how it's been called for a long, long time.
But if you can't get that hit out of the game, if a player doesn't have to be in actual possession of the puck before getting laid out at centre ice, then the NHL and hockey in general has no chance whatsoever of improving its dismal and deteriorating record on head shots and concussions.