Mon Oct 18 10:43am EDT
As with any new bylaw in the NHL, the standards of enforcement are still being established on Rule 48, which banned "a lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principle point of contact." It's a work in progress, molded by every situation in which it's applicable on the ice and every opportunity the NHL has to levy supplemental discipline.
Ottawa Senators forward Nick Foligno(notes) headshot on Pat Dwyer(notes) of the Carolina Hurricanes was the first test case of the new zero tolerance policy (watch it here) and the NHL, unexpectedly and impressively, got it right with a $2,500 fine: Textbook hit to the noggin, but no injury, no priors and NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell admitted this was a 'hockey play' on which the hit was intended to create a turnover.
Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan's(notes) hit on Dan Sexton(notes) of the Anaheim Ducks was a 'hockey play' too, albeit an illegal one: He wasn't trying to maliciously separate Sexton's head from his neck, but separate Sexton from the offensive rush with a neutral zone pick.
Yet it's probably a more textbook example of what the NHL is trying to eliminate from the Game than the Foligno hit was, and should be punished accordingly, for the sake of the new rule.
Here's the hit:
Sexton played later in the third period, and Doan wasn't penalized on the play.
Foligno's hit earned him a fine; Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet and Bob McKenzie of TSN anticipate the League will take a good long look at this one from Doan. Foligno made coincidental contact with the head on a hockey play; Doan made contact with the head while running interference in the neutral zone.
Here's a chance for the NHL to clearly differentiate between the two, setting an early standard via a suspension as well as making an example of a rather highly regarded player.