Before Thursday night, Taylor Hall of the Edmonton Oilers had one major penalty in his NHL career and was never given a game misconduct. The question is: Will that squeaky clean pedigree help him when this injurious hit on Cal Clutterbuck inevitably lands Hall in Brendan Shanahan’s court of NHL player safety?
At 17:27 of the third period, with the Minnesota Wild leading the Oilers 3-1, Clutterbuck was skating through the neutral zone when Hall crushed him – left leg extended, body crouched down low. Clutterbuck went down in a painful heap, clutching his leg.
Here’s what the Minnesota media take sounded and looked like:
Hall was given a 5-minute major and a game misconduct for kneeing.
As for Clutterbuck, he flew with the Wild to Calgary. From Michael Russo:
He was stopped at the Zamboni entrance and put onto a stretcher, then wheeled to the Oilers medical room. I saw him with ice and a bandage just above the left knee as he was being wheeled.
So what will happen to Hall from a supplemental discipline perspective?
Here’s Taylor Hall explaining the hit, which he didn’t feel was knee-on-knee, that he sorta blamed on bad ice and a bouncing puck, and that he didn’t think it as “that dirty.”
Said Hall: “I could have hit him in the head. I didn’t really want to bury him.” See, the Dept. of Player Safety works!
(Uh, why is Hall talking at all after the game, with a hearing potentially looming the next day?)
Mark Spector of Sportsnet wonders what Shanahan might rule on:
We've seen the NHL's Department of Player Safety react to a lot of different types of hits since its inception, but this one may be unique.
Yes, video appears to show that the first point of contact was knee on knee. But what if it is not Clutterbuck's knee that's hurt, as it appeared post-game?
If the hip-on-thigh portion of the check caused the injury, what then? You can't suspend for a hard hip check, can you?
Knee-on-knee hits are about as dirty as it gets, and it's hard to look at the video and say that there wasn't intent to throw that knee. A player whose supposedly worthy of the #1 overall pick shouldn't have to resort to that sort of cheap shot in his game. Perhaps the release of Darcy Hordichuk compelled him to feel that he needed to fill that role?
It was a dirty hit and a no-brainer suspension for Shanahan.
The only lingering question is the duration of the suspension. Here’s another player with a clean record (at the time) who decided to lead with his knee: Kevin Porter of the Colorado Avalanche, suspended four games for this hit on David Booth:
Part of the ruling: "What is especially troubling about this hit is the distance that Porter travels with his knee extended in this position."
As Hall said in his postgame comments, he was committed to the hit; but the decision on how to hit Clutterbuck appeared split-second.
Shanahan’s only handed out two rulings on kneeing: Porter’s suspensions and Adam McQuaid’s $2,500 fin for kneeing Nick Foglino. Assuming Clutterbuck isn’t significantly injured, we’re guessing 2-3 games for Hall, which is where Robin Brownlee ended up too.