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The St. Louis Blues suffered a big loss Thursday night, as forward Andy McDonald left their game versus the Carolina Hurricanes with a shoulder injury after getting tangled up with forward Tuomo Ruutu and crashing into the side boards.
After the Blues rang the puck around the net, McDonald and Ruutu sprinted to cut it off along the wall. McDonald appeared poised to win the puck race, but Ruutu attempted to swat the Blues forward's stick out of the way and body him away from the puck, a move that sent McDonald stumbling into the boards and then to the locker room with a shoulder injury.
Losing McDonald for any length of time is a real blow to the Blues' offense. Since returning from a concussion, the forward has 17 points in 18 games, the highest point-per-game rate on the team.
Ken Hitchcock didn't like the hit, and he made sure to say so. From STL Today:
"I didn't like the hit," Hitchcock said.
See? I told you. Hitchcock continued.
"I thought the hit was certainly a penalty, whether it's a suspension or not, who knows? But that's what's wrong with our game. The player was in a vulnerable position. He knocked his stick to knock him off balance and then pushed him hard into the boards. It's a real tough play in hockey."
It is a tough play, and regarding whether or not it's a suspension, I'm not sure either.
McDonald was indeed in a vulnerable position, and we've seen Shanahan take a hard line when it comes to puck races to the side boards. When a player is going straight towards the wall and he's taken down, the results can be very dangerous.
But Ruutu didn't push. Rather than shove from behind, a suspendable offense under the reign of Shanahan, Ruutu winds up knocking McDonald shoulder-first into the wall in what appears to be a botched attempt to take the body from the side. That's legal, even if, in this case, it was poorly executed.
McDonald was injured on the play, which could work against Ruutu if the Department of Player Safety decides to give this a review, but Ruutu has the good fortune of not being a repeat offender. Yes, he was suspended three games for boarding Darcy Tucker in 2009 (a much clearer and more obviously suspendable offense), but that was over three years ago, and the statute of limitations for repeat offender status runs out after two years.
What say you, all? Fine? Suspension? Nothing?