Wheaton was the Red Wings' fifth-round pick in 2013 (Larry MacDougal, The Canadian Press)Puck pundits, start parsing the phrase 'vulnerable player.' The Western Hockey League has a checking-from-behind controversy to deal with following a scary scenario that unfolded on Tuesday during the Kelowna Rockets-Seattle Thunderbirds match.
During the third period, Detroit Red Wings-drafted Rockets defenceman Mitch Wheaton, who's had a fairly full injury dossier in his young career, gathered up a loose puck at the right faceoff dot in his own zone. Wheaton carried the puck behind his own goal to elude Thunderbirds forechecker Roberts Lipsbergs. It looked as if Lipsbergs was bracing to deliver a check before Wheaton tried to pivot toward the corner. The contact propelled Wheaton into the boards, where his upper body appeared to take the brunt of the impact. There is some dispute over whether it was a bad hit, but a five-minute major and game misconduct was assessed and Wheaton was injured.
From Rockets play-by-play broadcaster Regan Bartel:
When they showed it a second time in the building, many fans gasped as they watched Lipsbergs hit Wheaton in the back. I viewed another angle of the hit which looks even worse. This was not a good hit. I don't believe Lipsbergs is a dirty player, but he clearly threw caution to the wind in making contact with Wheaton. The European forward will be suspended without question. He has to be. It is the only way the league can send a clear message to Lipsbergs and to others that aggressive force while your opponent is in a vulnerable position won't be tolerated. Is six games enough? The good news is Wheaton was able to travel back with the team but won't be playing anytime soon. (Regan's Rant)
(Slight digression: some spectators in Seattle were not very nice during the delay.)
Well, the T-Birds game was fun aside from that. By the way, everyone who started chanting "USA" at the kid lying on the ice? Go to hell.
— Julia Sabin (@raindroppass) November 20, 2013
(Makes perfect sense, since Roberts Lipsbergs is from Latvia. And we're back in.)Read More »from Red Wings pick Mitch Wheaton stretchered off after scary check from behind in WHL