ST. PAUL, Minn. – Corey Perry said he had seen the replay a couple of times. He can only hope NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan and the Department of Player Safety see it the same way.
“I was committed to the hit,” Perry said Tuesday night after getting tossed for drilling Jason Zucker in the Anaheim Ducks’ 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. “It’s one of those things. I didn’t change my path of direction. I was committed. I tried to let up. It’s hard. It happens so fast. It’s unfortunate.”
Did he intend to hit Zucker in the head?
“No,” Perry said. “I don’t go out there looking to hurt guys. That’s not the way I am. That’s not me as a person. It is what it is.”
It was ugly.
The puck caromed off the right-wing boards in the Anaheim zone. Zucker threw the puck back up the boards toward the blue line, and he kept looking to his right as he curled to the left.
Perry was indeed committed to the hit at that point. As he said: “My feet don’t change direction.” And it did happen fast.
But the puck was long gone, by the split-second standards of lateness in the NHL. And did Perry let up? It’s hard to see that. He kept his elbow down, but he put his right shoulder straight into Zucker’s head. His feet left the ice. Both players went flying because of the force, and one didn’t get up.
Zucker lay flat on his back for a while and had to be helped off the ice. He left the game with what the Wild announced was an upper-body injury.
“Obviously he took a pretty hard hit, but I don’t have the update yet,” said Wild coach Mike Yeo. “I didn’t watch it enough times. I mean, you can slow these things down. I’m emotional right now. We just lost a tough game, and we lost a player in the game, so I don’t know. I have to watch it a couple more times, but you never like seeing one of your players get hit like that.”
Perry received a major penalty for interference and a game misconduct 4:21 into the second period.
“The referee said he hit him a little late,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. “When he hits him a little late and a guy’s injured, then it’s a game misconduct, I guess, by rule. That was his explanation to me, and I accepted it.”
The question now is supplemental discipline.
Bob McKenzie of TSN reports that Perry will have a phone hearing on Wednesday with the NHL.
For this to be an illegal hit to the head, the head had to be both targeted and the principle point of contact. But the Department of Player Safety does not necessarily have to establish intent to determine the head was targeted – it can consider the hit reckless – and there is no question the head was the principle point of contact.
The rule allows officials to consider whether the opponent “put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was avoidable.”
Zucker turned toward Perry, but he did it in one smooth motion.
Did Perry’s feet fail to change direction because he didn’t have time to avoid the hit, or was he trying to finish his check and just finished it too high?
Perry said he doesn’t try to hurt people. But he did serve a four-game suspension for an elbow on Claude Giroux in 2009, and he does have a reputation for edgy, if not dirty, play. He knows he’s in trouble.
“Obviously you don’t want to miss games and be suspended or whatever,” Perry said. “I want to help this team win. That’s my goal.”
How many games? We’ll see.
Boudreau said he had seen the replay only once, and that was as the Ducks were going out for the third period, so he didn’t want to comment. The Ducks were off to Dallas.
“I’ll look at it on the plane,” Boudreau said, “and make my guess then.”
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