At first blush, the Scott Laughton check in an Ontario Hockey League game fits the 'if it walks like a duck' criteria for the blindside hits that are being eliminated from the game.
The Philadelphia Flyers first-round pick received a checking-to-the-head major penalty and game misconduct in the Oshawa Generals' game against the Ottawa 67's on Wednesday. The 67's Daniel Walsh was crouched after taking a shot on net when the backchecking Laughton delivered a check that was at best borderline late and clearly made contact with an opponent's head. That's the type of act OHL commissioner David Branch and vice-president Ted Baker have usually sanction with a suspension in the 10-games range.
Playing with some bite to his game is in Laughton's interest as a Flyers prospect — in fact, his dogged forechecking led to the turnover that created Oshawa's third-period tying goal, without which it would not have been able to win 4-3 in a shootout. He's no villain here, just a player who might have crossed the line. (Oshawa, to its credit, killed off the five-minute power play that carried through the remaining part of regulation and first half of overtime before getting the extra point for winning the shootout.)
Zero-tolerance policies on checks to the head are intended to effect change in players' habits, to make them read the play, understand when the opponent is in a vulnerable position where a check could be exceptionally dangerous and hold up. That is a million times easier said than done in a team sport where the game moves at more than a mile a minute, but as the video shows, it looked pretty bad.
(Stick tap: Jérôme Bérubé.)
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (video: Rogers Television).