"Twenty-three L.A. ... got a major penalty: hit to the head, game misconduct."
That was the referee's call at 8:12 of the second period on Monday night in Minnesota, as Dustin Brown(notes) of the Los Angeles Kings was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for an illegal hit to the head of Antti Miettinen(notes) as the Minnesota Wild forward was in the act of shooting.
Was it to the head or the shoulder? Was the head targeted? Does it conform to the NHL's new edict on blindside hits? Take a gander:
Kings coach Terry Murray remained irate over the call into the third period. Miettinen wasn't injured on the play. Will this be a Shane Doan-like statement about blindside hits, or will this be a Kris Letang-like error by the on-ice officials in which no contact with the head was made?
And do any of those semantics matter when it's a hit that, in the spirit of the NHL's new initiatives on player safety, should no longer be made?
UPDATE: Via Dave in the comments, here's Brown after the game to LA Kings Insider:
"If I had hit him in the head, he would probably be on the ice for a lot longer than he was. The league is looking at hits like that. I think that was a clean hit, from top to bottom. Shoulder on shoulder. He's shooting the puck and he's in a vulnerable position, maybe, but I'm not going to not make that hit. Actually, I hit him almost on the inside of the shoulder. If I hit his head, I'm not sitting here even arguing it, but a shoulder-on-hit, and I think he still had the puck when I made contact, so it wasn't late or anything. But with the league being all over these blindside head shots, they're probably going to make that call every time, because they're all over the refs to make those type of calls. ... It's one of those plays where I think it's a clean hit, and refs have a split-second to make a decision."
So are we seeing an argument for expanded replay?