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Sean Leahy

David Koci should expect a call from Colin Campbell

Sean Leahy
Puck Daddy

It's been a few days since the last controversial hit in the NHL and now thanks to David Koci(notes) of the Colorado Avalanche, we'll have an excuse to bring up the debated-to-death topic yet again.

First, here's his hit from behind on Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green(notes) from last night's 6-1 Caps win:

Green left the game after suffering a gash over his eye but said he expects to play Friday when Washington visits Vancouver. Koci was given 5-minutes for boarding, 5-minutes for fighting and a 10-minute game misconduct. As you see from the replay right after the commercial break, Green takes a quick peek over his shoulder before shooting the puck back up the boards moments before Koci drills him in the back. Whether he realized how far Koci was from him is anyone's guess, but the Avs forward comes in full steam from at least the faceoff dot. After the game, Washington coach Bruce Boudreau was not happy with the noted enforcer's actions:

"Please, the guy's got one goal in six years. He couldn't play in the American League," Boudreau said. "I've faced David Koci an awful lot, he might be a nice guy, I have no idea. I'm glad he's making a living, but if this is any game, he gets on the ice for the first three minutes, he gets into his fight with the guy and then he sits at the end of the bench, so what good is he?

"It shows what we have to get rid of to have a good game. The guys that are sitting at the end of the bench and they come out and hit a guy for the sake of 'I've got to run around like an idiot or I'll never play again' — those are the guys we've got to get rid of."

A career-enforcer, Koci's totals include 97 NHL games, 2 goals, 1 assist, 4:27 average time-on-ice, and 361 penalty minutes. He's not exactly out there because he has a nice wrist shot.

Boudreau also told the Washington Post's Tarik el-Bashir that he isn't worried that his team doesn't have an enforcer, instead the Caps will take advantage of the extra power-play opportunities they're given in those sorts of situations. The enforcer debate is a good one, whether or not teams with star players should have a tough guy on the bench for protection. Depending on the type of enforcer, as well as the smarts of the player, using a roster spot for a team bodyguard could be an advantage or a disadvantage.

What's obvious to those in Denver is that Koci is one of those enforcers that hurts the team more than he helps as the Denver Post's Adrian Dater wrote post game:

"But it was still an inexcusable cheap shot by Koci, and all it did was sink morale of his teammates. When a player makes a big cheap shot, it always kills any buzz in the building and always seems to deflate the rest of the team. Koci, I thought, started the season well, playing a good, honest, forechecking game and fighting with honor. But that hit tonight is going to set his reputation back a lot now, and he’s barely been playing lately anyway. You have to wonder what value he’s giving Joe Sacco right now."

For supplemental discipline, the play fits the formula that the NHL seems to use when deciding whether or not a play is a suspendable offense: hit from behind, injury, player reputation. Looks like Avalanche coach Joe Sacco will have to find a substitute for Koci's four minutes for a couple of games.

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