February 21, 2010
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Alex Ovechkin's(notes) hit on Jaromir Jagr(notes) is the talk of the tournament right now: a brutal collision at center ice (animated .gif here) that sent Jagr on his back, prying the puck away and eventually leading to Evgeni Malkin's(notes) second goal of the game just 1:49 into the third period. By far, the turning point in the game.
Jagr took the puck at center ice and saw Ovechkin steaming towards him at the red line. He attempted to avoid the hit by bringing the puck to his backhand and move around him.
Unfortunately, it's not 1999 Jagr but 2010 Jagr, so the move results in Ovechkin's shoulder catching Jagr on the head, rocking his helmet back and sending him to the ice.
Said Ovechkin on the hit: "It's just a moment. If I have a chance to hit somebody, it does not matter who it is."
The legality of the hit was debated by some in our live blog, but by the NHL's warped standards of justice it's a punishing but clean hit; but what about international rules?
There was contact with the head because of Jagr's move, but no leaving of the skates by Ovechkin and no injury for Jagr, who returned and played well for the Czechs. In the NHL, that's an unpunished hit.
What about the IIHF? Here's what its rulebook says:
Rule 540 - Checking to the Head and Neck Area - A player who directs a check or blow, with any part of his body, to the head and neck area of an opposing player or "drives" or "forces" the head of an opposing player into the protective glass or boards, shall be assessed at the discretion of the Referee, a minor and a misconduct penalty; a major and game misconduct penalty; or a match penalty. When injury occurs, a match penalty must be assessed.
So should that have been a head-checking penalty? Not in the eyes of officials Dan O'Halloran and Guy Pellerin. Both of whom are, incidentally, Canadian. Old Time Hockey!
Jagr talked about the hit after the game: "Guys, before you asked me the question, I know I make a mistake. It was a big mistake. The hit, I don’t really care. But the mistake was the turnover I made, they scored a goal. that hurt me the most.
"I don’t care how I feel. If something hurt, it’s always healed. But the mistake is not that easy to heal."