There is a lot of focus these days on what is a legal hit and what isn’t, what warrants a suspension and what doesn’t.
In the WHL, the hit by F Brendan Shinnimin of the Tri-City Americans on F Josh Nicholls of the Saskatoon Blades was nasty and it was rather obvious that it warranted a suspension.
In the NHL, Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes caught a piece of Dan Sexton of the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night. There wasn’t a penalty on the play — if you haven’t seen it, it’s right here.
It’s an open-ice hit on an unsuspecting player who has just delivered a pass. It isn’t one of those devastating checks that blows up someone. Doan cuts in front of Sexton and his shoulder appears to hit the jaw area.
And Colin Campbell, the NHL’s hanging judge, decided it warranted a three-game suspension.
Which is well and good, but, really, was a suspension warranted? Is the NHL skating on a slippery slope” As it works to get headshots out of the game, is it in danger of eliminating even more of the body contact?
Here’s a tweet from former NHLer Tyson Nash, who now is on the Phoenix Coyotes’ broadcast crew:
“Hockey isn't (tiddly) winks! Everyone who plays should know the consequences. It’s dangerous out there. Or it used to be. Heads up boys!”
He also tweeted:
“Oh and (Sexton) wasn't even hurt! Not right. Players need to be accountable as well. Keep ur head up and don't admire ur passes.”
Meanwhile, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Dr. Michael J. Stuart and others have organized a conference called The Ice Hockey Summit: Action on Concussion.
In a piece by Jeff Z. Klein at The New York Times’ hockey blog, Dr. Stuart says: “Whenever I talk to young players, I always say the same things: never use your stick; never use your head as a weapon; never leave your feet to deliver a hit; never do anything at the expense of the health and safety of your opponent or yourself. I try to show them that you don’t have to kill the other guy to separate him from the puck.”
And make no mistake — this has to start at the grass roots level of minor hockey. Players have to be taught how to use angles, how to squeeze an opponent out of the play and away from the puck, the dangers of leaving your feet and on and on and on.
But, at the same time, they need to be taught to be aware of what’s going on when they are out there on the ice.
Hockey is a tough, physical game. And when you get to the junior level and above, fans pay money to be entertained. That entertainment includes good, hard checks.
I was told late Tuesday night that G Todd Mathews, 20, is joining the USHL’s Omaha Lancers. Mathews was dropped by the Kootenay Ice last week as it chose to go with three forwards — Steele Boomer, Matt Fraser and Kevin King — as its 20-year-olds. . . . Mathews, from Covina, Calif., got into three games this season, going 1-1-0-1, 2.28, .925. Last season, he got into 55 games with the Ice, and finished 33-14-3-2, 2.75, .907. . . . The Lancers have two goaltenders on their roster — Christopher Holden, 20, from Marlton, N.J., and John Keeney, 17, from Twin Peaks, Calif. Holden is 1-1, 2.02, .920. . . . Keeney, whose WHL rights belong to the Kamloops Blazers, is 2-0, 1.41, .942. Keeney’s two victories were over the Tri-City Storm — 3-2 and 2-1. Drew Schoneck, a former WHL player and coach, is the Storm’s GM/head coach.
It seems that the Brandon Wheat Kings have supplied a second goaltender to the QMJHL. The Brandon Sun reports that the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles have signed G Andrew Hayes, 20, who was dropped late in September, a victim of the 20-year-old numbers game.
Hayes cleared waivers, The Sun reports, and is joining the Screaming Eagles. Last week, G Jacob DeSerres, 20, who also was dropped by Brandon, now is with the Saint John Sea Dogs. In fact, he put up a shutout in his first start with the Sea Dogs.
Hayes, from Sherwood Park, Alta., holds Brandon’s franchise record for GAA, at 2.79. He played 111 regular-season games with Brandon. Last season, he was 25-12-2, 2.68, .906.
The Screaming Eagles have two other goaltenders on their roster -- François Lacerte, 19, and Alex Veronneau, 17. And they have three other 20-year-olds -- F Stephen Horyl, who is injured at the moment, F Taylor MacDougall and D Spencer Metcalfe.
DEPT. OF DISCIPLINE: D Mitchell Chapman of the Kelowna Rockets was hit with a six-game suspension for knee-on-knee hit on F Dylen McKinlay of the Bruins in Chilliwack on Friday. Chapman has served one game to date. . . . The Prince Albert Raiders and Red Deer Rebels each were fined $250 for a line brawl on Saturday night in Red Deer. As well, Campese was touched up for $500 for the game misconduct he received. Ch-ch-ching!
On the heels of news that Everett Silvertips head coach Craig Hartsburg will be undergoing heart surgery, Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun spoke with Vancouver Giants coaches Don Hay and John Becanic. . . . Hay spoke of the stress involved with coaching, while Becanic, a former Everett coach, recalled a time when he was having his blood pressure taken between periods. . . . Give that story a read right here.
The Kootenay Ice got down to 22 players Tuesday by reassigning two 17-year-old forwards — Ryan Bloom and Jarett Zentner — although their destinations haven’t yet been revealed. Bloom, a second-round pick in the 2008 bantam draft, was pointless in two games, while Zentner, who didn’t have a point in four games, was a fourth-round selection. The Ice is carrying two goaltenders, seven defencemen and 13 forwards. . . . D Sena Acolatse of the Prince George Cougars is the CHL’s player of the week. He had 11 points in three games and was plus-8. . . . G Mark Friesen of the Swift Current Broncos is the CHL’s goaltender of the week. He was 5-0-0-0 last week, putting up two shutouts to go with numbers of 0.98 and .966. . . . The WHL will announce Thursday the rosters for the teams that will play against a touring Russian team in the Subway Super Series. Those games will be played Nov. 17 in Kamloops and Nov. 18 in Prince George.
EDMONTON 1 at KOOTENAY 4: D Luke Paulsen had a goal and two assists for the Ice (6-3-1). . . . Paulsen, an 18-year-old sophomore from Winnipeg, had four assists in 49 games last season. He has a goal and five assists in 10 outings this season. . . . F Sam Reinhart, 14, got the winning goal in his first WHL game. One of three brothers playing in the game, he broke a 1-1 tie at 1:19 of the third period. . . . He was the 15th pick in the 2010 bantam draft. Max Reinhart is a forward with the Ice, while Griffin is a defenceman with the Oil Kings. . . . Sam, who turns 15 on Nov. 6, and Max, who was pointless, each finished plus-1; Griffin had an assist but wound up minus-3. . . . Paulsen, who drew assists on the Ice’s first two goal, made it 3-1 with a shorthanded goal at 10:27. . . . The Oil Kings (5-6-0) have lost four in a row. . . . Ice G Nathan Lieuwen stopped 26 shots, eight more than Edmonton’s Cam Lanigan. . . . Edmonton was 1-for-5 on the PP; Kootenay was 1-for-9. . . . Attendance was 2,189. . . . Checking-from-behind count: Zero.
SASKATOON 1 at MOOSE JAW 5: F Quinton Howden scored two goals and set up two others as the Warriors (4-7-0), who have won two in a row, ended the Blades’ six-game winning streak. . . . Saskatoon is 8-2-0. . . . The Blades scored the game’s first goal when F Darian Dziurzynski got his eighth just 5:33 into the first period. . . . But the Warriors got that one back eight minutes later when F Antonin Honejsek scored on the PP and Howden gave them the lead with another PP goal at 12:03 of the second. . . . F Dylan Hood added a goal, his sixth, and two assists for the Warriors, while D Dylan McIlrath had two assists. . . . Howden has five goals, as does Honejsek. . . . Moose Jaw F Joey Kornelsen had a goal and an assist. . . . Kornelsen, Hood and Howden were on a line together. . . . Warriors G Thomas Heemskerk stopped 22 shots. . . . Saskatoon opened with Steven Stanford, who gave up three goals on 15 shots. Adam Morrison came on to stop 11 of 12. . . . Moose Jaw was 2-for-5 on the PP; Saskatoon was 0-for-2. . . . Attendance was 2,517. . . . Checking-from-behind count: One minor, to Saskatoon F Josh Nicholls. . . . Nicholls was penalized at 13:04 of the first period and the Warriors scored on the ensuing PP. It was Nicholls, of course, who was hit from behind by F Brendan Shinnimin of the Tri-City Americans on Oct. 6, a hit that resulted in a 12-game suspension to Shinnimin.
CALGARY 1 at TRI-CITY 3: The Americans, in their first home game since Oct. 1, opened a 2-0 lead and went from there. . . . F Adam Hughesman scored his eighth of the season at 12:33 of the second period and F Brooks Macek made it 2-0 at 6:32 of the third. . . . The Hitmen cut into the lead on F Justin Kirsch’s goal at 8:03. . . . F Patrick Holland iced it with his seventh just 19 seconds later. . . . The Americans (8-3-1) now are 4-0 on home ice. They are back home after a 3-3 East Division swing. . . . The Hitmen (4-5-0) are 2-2 on their U.S. Division tour. . . . These teams met in last season’s championship final, with Calgary winning in five games. . . . Each team was 0-for-3 on the PP. . . . The Hitmen had a lengthy 5-on-3 in the first period when the Americans were caught with too many men at 8:08 and D Zach Yuen took a high-sticking minor at 8:57. . . . Tri-City G Drew Owsley stopped 34 shots, while Calgary’s Juraj Holly turned aside 26. . . . Attendance was 3,630. . . . Checking-from-behind count: Zero.
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