A Young Star in Hot Water
It's easy to suspend the likes of Jannik Hansen, banned for one game this week by Brendan Shanahan for a sneaky elbow/forearm on Marian Hossa.
It's quite another, as we've seen over the years, when it's a star who delivers a controversial hit.
After an incident in Edmonton Thursday night, Shanahan will have one of those cases on his docket Friday morning when he begins to sift through the evidence following a controversial bodycheck by Oiler youngster Taylor Hall on Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild.
Hall isn't an established star yet, and in fact with only three goals so far this season, he's struggling to do what he does best, and that's score. But he is a former first overall draft pick and many anticipate that as such he'll ultimately evolve into a franchise-type player.
Late in the third period against the Wild, just after Minny had potted its third goal of the night in what would be a 3-1 victory, Hall laid out an unsuspecting Clutterbuck with what may have been intended as a hip check but became an unnecessary cheap shot and should get Hall suspended.
Clutterbuck, for starters, never at any point had possession of the puck. At best, the bouncing rubber glanced off his skate. Hall saw the chance for a big hit as Clutterbuck turned towards the middle of the ice, lowered his shoulder but then appeared to make contact with his knee on Clutterbuck's knee/hip area.
Clutterback collapsed in obvious pain, and ultimately had to be helped off the ice with an undisclosed injury. Hall received a five-minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct.
"I really didn't feel like it was knee-on-knee at all," said Hall afterwards. "It was just a weird play. . .I thought the puck was going to bounce right to him. . .it hit his skate. . .it might have been a bit late.
"I felt I got a good chunk of him with my hip. It sucks to see him down but I don't really think it was that dirty. . .I could have hit him in the head. That thought crossed my mind. I didn't really want to bury him too bad. I just thought the puck was right there. I thought that for that instant he was a little vulnerable but I didn't want to catch him with his head down or hit him in the head. I just wanted to get a piece of him and hopefully get the puck back."
Minnesota coach Mike Yeo seemed stunned by the play.
"(Hall) looked like he was trying to hurt a guy," said Yeo. "The thing I would say about this is how would it be if it was reversed, if it was (Clutterbuck) hitting Taylor Hall?"
Hall will, one imagines, receive at least a phone hearing with Shanahan, and it's hard to believe he won't get more than a game suspension. Complicating matters is that the two teams will meet in St. Paul on Tuesday, setting the stage for trouble if the league chooses not to act.
Hall has been indentified as a reckless player before, but that's mostly for endangering himself and hurling his body into harm's way.
This, however, is different. There was no need for that kind of hit, which seemed mostly the product of a frustrated player on a team struggling to win hockey games.
We'll see what the sheriff has to say.