Don Cherry came out swinging on Thursday night, blustering his way through the first Coach's Corner of the season by calling new disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan's lengthy suspensions "ridiculous" and claiming they would make the league's players afraid to hit.
Then, to drive home what the league was losing, he showed a compilation of classic, open-ice checks by Scott Stevens. "Enjoy this, folks," Cherry said, "Because you're never ever gonna see it again. Never."
And then, on Saturday night, Dion Phaneuf did this Stephane Da Costa:
That's a beautiful, Scott Stevens-style open-ice hit that comes, ironically, only two days after Cherry claimed you'd never see one again. Seriously, the league couldn't have gotten a better rebuttal if they'd staged it. Someone check Phaneuf's locker for a briefcase full of money.
I especially liked the part where Da Costa pops to his feet, none the worse for wear, because Phaneuf took care to keep his shoulder down and ensure the principal point of contact was the chest, not the head. As a result, the only penalty assessed on this play went to Ottawa Senators' defenseman Jared Cowan for roughing after the hit.
Seems to me the league isn't trying to legislate hits out of the game. They're just trying to make sure guys get back up after they happen.