So long as hockey is officiated by human beings, we're going to see the occasional blown call. But man oh man, have we seen some absolute doozies already this season. David Backes's ejection for a "hit to the head" comes to mind. Jakob Silfverberg's goaltender interference is another.
And now, we present yet another contender for worst call of the year: In the second period of Tuesday night's tilt between the Chicago Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks, Andrew Desjardins was given a match penalty for a hit to the head on this collision with Jamal Mayers. Try to find it:
Seriously, the only way this is a hit to the head is if Mayers has a second head sewn onto his shoulder, like Homer Simpson and Mr. Burns. That is as clean a hit as you're going to find.
It's a huge hit, no doubt, and with Mayers hunched and looking back to receive Duncan Keith's suicide pass, he gets absolutely steamrolled when Desjardins stands him up hard, just inside the Chicago zone. But the multiple replays in this clip show that there's nothing objectionable about it besides the fact that it probably hurt. Desjardins doesn't leave his feet. He doesn't lead with the elbow. He doesn't even appears to connect with Mayers' head. He just hits him really hard.
Last we checked, you were allowed to do that in the NHL. We understand that the officials sat the lockout out too, but it might be time for them to review that part of the rulebook. Hitting: still okay.
Thankfully for the Sharks, Duncan Keith went ballistic on the clean hit -- maybe he was mad at himself for hanging Mayers out to dry with the pass -- and wound up earning himself a boatload of penalties and a 10-minute misconduct. When play resumed, it was 4-on-4.
That had to make the Sharks feel better. And they probably felt even better when Desjardins' match penalty was rescinded in record time after the game.