Welcome to the Department of Player Safety, Chris Pronger. Here’s something that might be familiar to you: A defenseman taking out a forward in a prone position with a hit to the head.
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas took out Florida Panthers forward Scottie Upshall with a hit in the second period. Upshall was shaken up, and skated off the ice on his own.
There was no penalty on that play.
Now, the first thing you notice on the hit is Upshall’s head down, and Gudas keeping his arm tucked in as he skated through him. There’s no question that Upshall’s in a prone position; and as Rule 48 states, “whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was avoidable, can be considered.”
Now, the NHL will sometimes take into account players’ history with each other in determining the intent of the hitter.
And, well, Upshall has trolled Gudas before:
Yes, the infamous water bottle squirt that nearly had Gudas fighting the entire Panthers bench. Finally, Radko Gudas gets his revenge for this act of liquid terrorism!
So what say you on the hit on Thursday night: Suspension worthy?