Rick Nash of the New York Rangers looks like he will get away with a brutal hit that he delivered to Tomas Kopecky of the Florida Panthers during a game in New York on March 22.
The hit was delivered from behind and, to the casual observer, appeared to target Kopecky’s head. Not only was Nash not called for a penalty on the hit, the NHL will take no action on the matter.
I’m not personally an advocate for too many rule changes in the NHL but what is good for the goose must be good for the gander. A few days before Nash’s hit on Kopecky Joffery Lupul of the Toronto Maple Leafs delivered a similar blow to Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Lupul’s hit was almost identical to the one that Nash served up but Lupul came with a two game suspension that began on March 22, the same day as Nash’s hit.
Lupul expressed his confusion on his Twitter account saying, “If someone can explain the decisions on what warrants a suspension and what doesn’t, please let me and the rest of guys know.”
Well Mr. Lupul, according to NHL Rule 48 an illegal check to the head is a hit where the opponent’s head is “targeted and the principal point of contact.”
I’m certainly not insinuating that Lupul’s hit was justified. It was a clear violation of Rule 48 and his suspension was warranted. The real question becomes why was Nash not handed the same punishment?
If you look at the two plays side-by-side they look almost identical. Lupul at least had the courtesy to hit Hedman from the side whereas Nash teed off on Kopecky with a hit from behind. Kopecky never saw it coming and didn’t have an opportunity to defend himself.
The NHL’s Take
Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s chief disciplinarian explained to Puck Daddy that Kopecky’s head wasn’t the principal point of contact, which is why Nash’s hit worthy of a suspension under Rule 48.
A high hit is dangerous no matter where it’s targeted. I find it odd that Nash decided to deliver the dirty shot while the Panthers’ resident enforcer George Parros is out with an injury. If Parros was on the bench that night swift retribution may have been in order.
The Rangers and the Panthers will meet two more times this season, once in New York and once in Sunrise. Hockey players have notoriously long memories and it wouldn’t surprise me if Nash decided to take a scheduled rest on those days.
More from this contributor:
Jonathan Huberdeau is Stuck in the Middle of the NHL Lockout: A Fan’s Take
Dmitry Kulikov of the Florida Panthers Signs in Russia: A Fan’s Take
TSN: Lupul Suspended Two Games For Hit to Hedman’s Head
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Kristian Eberwein is a freelance journalist from Orlando, Florida. He was an English major at the University of Central Florida and has been a part of the Florida hockey community for the past twenty years. Follow him on Twitter @KrisEberwein