December 05, 2011
(Ed. Note: This post is our NHL.com headline writer audition.)
Thanks to this hit by Mark Fistric of the Dallas Stars on Saturday night, Nino Niederreiter(notes) of the New York Islanders is out indefinitely with a concussion; which is why Fistric has a date with the Shanahammer (over the phone) on Tuesday:
Another look, via reader Andy Tran:
What's always fascinating about these plays are the varying degrees of outrage, and downplaying, based on partisan beliefs.
If you look at the replay, to me it shows Fistric actually ducking lower to make the hit at shoulder level on Niederreiter, although that opinion is being disputed by how Fistric "explodes" through the hit. It's unfortunate that Niederreiter was injured (I think the injury is from his head smacking the ice) and we hope he returns soon to the ice, but I still don't feel that hits should be judged on the injury. We shall see.
Save the Isles believes Mark Fistric(notes) "aimed right for the head and after contact left his feet on the follow through," and that "it would be a gross injustice if they let him off scot free" after he wasn't penalized for the hit (he was given a roughing minor in the ensuring skirmish).
Others believe Fistric should not only be suspended, but suspended for quite a while.
Kent Basky from Nucks Misconduct, however, believes the Aaron Rome(notes) hit on Nathan Horton(notes) that earned the Vancouver Canucks defenseman a 4-game suspension is similar enough to this hit that the book should be thrown at Fistric:
This hit on Horton featured less of an obvious leaving the feet element, no elbow, and not as much of a deliberate targeting of the head. In the suspension of Rome, the league even admitted it was as much bad timing on Rome's part. Yet they suspended him for 4 Stanley Cup Finals games.
The equivalent in regular season games? Anywhere from 8 to 16, according to some. Fistric needs to be shown that his hit was the kind the NHL assured us was going to be met with the harshest of punishment. You threw the book at Aaron Rome. Anything less than the equivalent suspension for Fistric will be an injustice.
Well, the Rome hit was also (a) much later than the Fistric hit and (b) punished under the previous player safety regime.
Much of the debate about this hit centers around the fact that Fistric appeared to launch himself into Niederreiter, leaving his feet on the play. It's an accusation his coach, Glen Gulutzan, took on (via Heika):
"I thought it was a good face-up hit,'' Gulutzan said. "I think there's going to be an issue there with the league about the feet, because I can sit here and say that they didn't leave the ground, but replays show that they did. But there was no intent on Fisty's part. He's a hard-hitting guy and it was face up. Sometimes when you hit, you're momentum is moving upward, that's how you hit. Whatever sport you're in, you bend your knees and you drive your legs. He got off the ground, so it will be up to the league to decide.''
Do you buy that?
A concussion plus the optics of Fistric levitating about a foot off the ground after the check are going to lead to a suspension, with two games as the guess. (Unless there's definitive proof he connection with the shoulder first.)
Under this regime and these rules, it's a suspension; when Scott Stevens was playing, it was the lead highlight.
Further reinforcing the notion that Scott Stevens would not be Scott Stevens today.