December 03, 2011
What do the 2011-12 NHL season and The Essential Billy Joel have in common? Both are full of questionable hits. Yeah. Billy Joel sucks. Deal with it.
Anyway, here's another one of those questionable hits. Midway through the first period of Saturday's tilt between the New York Islanders and the Dallas Stars, Nino Niederreiter(notes) was cutting through the neutral zone when Mark Fistric(notes) absolutely levelled him.
Problem was, unfortunately, the principle point of contact was the head. And Niederreiter left the game with what appeared to be (and was later announced to be) a concussion. That's never good.
So will Fistric get suspended for this hit? It's up for debate. The fact that Niederreiter was concussed doesn't bode well, but the fact that the hit went unpenalized does. There were six minutes of penalties handed out on the play: a minor to Fistric for roughing and a double minor to Matt Martin(notes) (for double roughing?), all from the scuffle after the hit. As far as the officials were concerned, the check itself was clean. Will Sheriff Shanahan feel the same way?
Islanders announcer Butch Goring did not. After the commercial break, he pointed out that Fistric is in mid-air at contact. That will likely be the primary issue here. If he connected with Niederreiter's head, rather than chest, as the result of an unnecessary leap, a ban -- a lengthy ban -- is definitely warranted.
But it looks to me like Fistric catches air as a result of the contact, not prior to it. We see it all the time when two players collide and one pops into the air. No one ever wants to see a player leave the game with brain trauma, but I'm not sure anything suspendable took place here.
Of course, there's a reason I'm not the disciplinarian. I don't always get these hits right. Also, I didn't apply.