We’ve all seen hockey skirmishes in which a linesman or referee inadvertently takes a punch to the face, which they typically grin and accept because it’s all part of their thankless, under-appreciated profession.
The same principle has to apply in this clip from the Vancouver Canucks’ game at the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night; because why else would the NHL allow Jannik Hansen to cross-check a referee?
Alex Burrows and Logan Couture were taking the opening faceoff when Couture lifted Burrows’ head with his glove, to which Burrows responded with a shove. Ryane Clowe of the Sharks skated over to get Couture out of the circle – with a hearty slash, no less – and Hansen came over to back up Burrows … giving referee Dave Jackson a cross-check in the back in the process, for some reason.
Burrows was given two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, as was Clowe. Hansen got nada.
"I have seen no referee's report referencing the incident," NHL Vice President of Communications John Dellapina told CBSSports.com. "And in cases like that, Colin Campbell, Terry Gregson and the Hockey Ops guys leave it up to the discretion of the on-ice officials whether behavior crossed the line."
It’s a weird highlight. It would have been interesting to have the NHL look into it and climb inside of Hansen’s head in that moment to understand his actions. We’re talking about a player who was thrown out of a game in December for “violence” and “behavior”, after all.