It's interesting to listen back to Eddie Olczyk of NBC on the following clip, because his thought process mirrored our own: 'Yikes, ouch, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins really nailed Boston Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk in the numbers there … eh, on second thought, he did seem to initially target the shoulder …'
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the boarding minor Malkin received in the Penguins' victory over the Bruins on Saturday will be the extent of his punishment: No suspension, no fine, just time served.
Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters has it right: This was a trifecta in Malkin's favor. No immediate injury, no prior history of illegal hits and there's enough gray area in Boychuk's last-second turn to the boards that supplemental discipline gets a little murky.
One more thought here: I know we're in an era of player safety and the shaming of those who dare perceive hockey as a physical, hard-hitting and dangerous form of entertainment. But with due respect to Misters McGuire and Burke, I don't want to see the bear hug rule for hits near the boards. Ever.
Not only because it adds another subjective call to the referees' menu — 'Did he release the bear hug in a reasonable amount of time?! How many Missississippis was it?!' — but because booming hits along the boards, legal or illegal, make the game more engaging for the viewer and add to the brutal drama of professional hockey. Cuddling doesn't. Continue to teach these guys the right way to hit, but let'em keep hitting.