Last spring, after four years at Princeton, 23-year-old defenseman Taylor Fedun signed a free agent contract with the Edmonton Oilers, and after an excellent prospects tournament and training camp, looked to have an outside shot at cracking the roster this season.
That was until the second period of Friday night's preseason contest between the Minnesota Wild and the Oilers. After Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner iced the puck, Fedun retreated into his own zone, chased by Wild forward Eric Nystrom, and wound up falling awkwardly into the end boards.
Initial reports are that Fedun received a broken femur, and Nystrom received a five minute boarding major and game misconduct.
Needless to say, Fedun's injury has re-raised the issue of no-touch icing in a major way. Fedun's teammates came out in favour of it immediately after the game:
Ryan Whitney, on the incident:
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Interestingly, the Minnesota Wild were involved in one of the last major incidents to raise this issue, when former Wild defenseman Kurtis Foster broke his femur in a race for the puck on March 20, 2008. From USA Today:
Foster, 26, needed more than six hours of surgery to insert a rod to repair a fracture that resulted from a collision with San Jose Sharks rookie Torrey Mitchell as they raced to touch the puck on a potential icing call. Mitchell appeared to bump Foster, who crashed heavily into the boards.
While many called for no-touch icing then, the NHL instead announced an amendment to rule 81 which allowed for supplementary discipline on unnecessary contact during puck races. Many, including this very site, argued that it wasn't enough:
I understand the intrinsic entertainment value in racing for a puck, so I get the blowback against no-touch icing even if I don't agree with it. But if the goal is to avoid another displaced fracture in the left femur and subsequent surgery to insert a steel rod -- like Foster had -- this rule change clearly doesn't go far enough. You need to outlaw contact.
Speaking of supplementary discipline, will Nystrom see any? Maybe not. According to Michael Russo, he wasn't even deserving of the boarding major. The fall came not as the result of a check or push, but because Nystrom reached around Fedun to negate an icing call, and Fedun stepped on the outstretched stick.
If the league agrees with Russo's assessment, Nystrom may escape suspension because he was attempting to play the puck, not take the body. Remember, according to Rule 81.1:
Any contact between opposing players while pursuing the puck on an icing must be for the sole purpose of playing the puck and not for eliminating the opponent from playing the puck. Unnecessary or dangerous contact could result in penalties being assessed to the offending player.
That said, this could be deemed "unnecessary or dangerous contact," in which case, Nystrom might still be facing a ban.
Suspension or not, it won't change the fact that Taylor Fedun broke his femur in a play that the NHL should have removed from the league three and a half years ago.
- Eric Nystrom