There was much displeasure after the San Jose Sharks' victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, as both Zac Rinaldo and Marc-Edouard Vlasic were accused of laying out foes with dangerous, Shanabannable hits.
Neither one will result in a suspension, apparently.
First, it was Rinaldo with a crushing hit on the newly acquired T.J. Galiardi of the Sharks:
There was no penalty on the play. Said Sharks assistant coach Matt Shaw to CSN Bay Area:
"We thought there was a hit on Galiardi that was a blindside hit there was no call on. That's something we hope the league looks into just to make sure the rules are being implemented as they would want them to be," Shaw said.
According to John Shannon of Sportsnet, the NHL felt that the hit was legal and the principle point of contact was the chest.
In the third period, it was Pickles on Danny Briere:
Briere was helped off the ice by a trainer late in the third period, and there was no penalty called on Vlasic. Said Briere after the game to Frequent Flyers:
"I wasn't expecting to be bulldozed there," Briere said. "It was a dangerous play, there's no doubt about it. Usually when you're in a vulnerable position like that, guys will try to bear-hug you or go around you. It was scary. I think I got fortunate that it wasn't worse than it is. I knew there was someone coming, but I just didn't think I was going to get run over like that."
Said Flyers writer Frank Seravalli: "In my eyes, Vlasic did not do a good enough job of turning Briere around at the boards to remove him from a vulnerable position. Instead, Vlasic extends his arms and sends him flying."
Yet … no suspension. David Pollak of the Mercury News with the context:
I asked a league source if the NHL was looking into either and here was the response, the closest thing to news I've got: "Already looked, nothing up."
I was going to mention this anyway, but what I found a little extra noteworthy about Vlasic's hit was that his lone NHL fight was with Briere on Nov. 20, 2009, according to the well-kept records at hockeyfights.com. And when I asked Vlasic the next day what prompted that fight that seemed to almost come out of nowhere, he said it was carryover from the previous season when the two teams last played. Not saying there was carryover this time, too, just pointing out there was a little history.
It goes without saying that the Vlasic hit was the dodgier of the two, especially given their history and Briere's previous concussions. But what complicates the call, both on the ice and for the NHL, is that the puck takes a carom off the boards to a spot where Briere needs to stop short to play it.
You could argue that Vlasic shouldn't extend his arms to send Briere into the corner; but you could also argue that Briere is pulling up with his back to the defense in an effort to play the puck on the forecheck, thereby putting himself in a vulnerable spot. In fact, that's how Vlasic argued it after the game:
"I was going back, and he was [too], and he stopped right into me. My momentum carried me forward. The ref saw it that way, and that's what he said. I'm going in there to get the puck and it just happened he turned into me, and he got the worst of it."
Meanwhile … we wouldn't mind seeing seven nasty games like that one for the Stanley Cup this June.