February 08, 2010
One recurring topic of discussion this NHL season has been the number of questionable hits doled out whether from knee-on-knee collisions or those to the upper body/head region of a player. Every few weeks it seems another hit happens, Colin Campbell's name is brought up and the "Wheel of Justice" is spun. Sometimes punishment is handed out and sometimes the player in question gets off with a fine or no punishment at all.
One of those hits that will debated into tomorrow occurred tonight during the New Jersey Devils-Philadelphia Flyers game. Newly acquired Anssi Salmela(notes) of the Devils had just scored his first goal for his new team early in the second period when Jeff Carter(notes) completed a body check moments after the puck was shot past Michael Leighton(notes) of the Flyers. Salmela landed face first onto the ice and lay motionless for a few minutes. No penalty was called on the play and as you'll see in this clip, Salmela was taken off the ice on a stretcher.
In real-time the hit looks ugly, but the more you look at it, you realize that Carter is not skating towards Salmela from the red line at full speed like we saw in the David Koci hit on Mike Green. He takes a few quick strides to separate Salmela from the puck during a scoring play and uses his shoulder (keeping his elbow down) as the hit is delivered. His elbow only comes up after the hit is completed and it makes no direct contact with Salmela's head. As Carter tries the shoulder-on-shoulder hit, Salmela's head is already a bit lowered (not down) from him driving to the net. Unfortunately, the end result of Salmela laying motionless, face first on the ice may cause some initial outrage and calls for Campbell to discipline the Flyers forward.
Salmela's agent, Jay Grossman, Tweeted tonight that the Devils defenseman suffered a refractured broken nose and lose some teeth. He didn't return to the game, but is expected to be okay.
This hit will bring yet another round of debate regarding headshots. Some will consider what Carter did dirty, while others will simply say it was a "hockey play" and that the end result is affect the judgment of others. Which side of the fence do you stand on?