Why Nazem Kadri wasn’t suspended for Daniel Sedin hit

NHL
NHL

After the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks had their war on the ice Saturday night, their online and media advocates held a war of screen-grabs, analyzing every pixel of Nazem Kadri’s hit on Daniel Sedin in the third period.

Kadri was given a 5-minute major for charging and a game misconduct for the hit, which jostled Sedin’s helmet loose and sent him head-first to the ice in a scary scene. Sedin would finish out the game.

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Immediately, the sequence was broken down from every angle, every approach. Canucks fans called for a Kadri suspension. Leafs fans didn’t exactly like the hit either. No angle provided a clean look at how much contact Kadri had with Sedin’s shoulder vs. his head, although the assumption of head contact was understandable given the way it snapped back.

Jason Botchford of The Province said that using the NHL rulebook to figure out if Kadri violated … the NHL rulebook, is “bullshit, really” and “if you’re arguing about principal points of contact and whether Kadri hit Daniel’s head after he grazed his shoulder first, or not at all, you have 100 per cent lost the plot. It was a predatory, elevated, dangerous, brutal blindside hit, the kind the league should be anxious to rid itself of.”

And here we see the nuanced difference in mission between the Department of Player Safety and that of a hyperbolic local columnist satiating his readers …

First off, know that blindside hits, no matter the brutality, aren’t in themselves illegal.

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It’s not in the rulebook. They took the language out of Rule 48 around 2012. If the head isn’t the main point of contact then it doesn’t matter from where the hit arrives. If you feel that’s B.S., then it requires another amendment to the rulebook, rather than Player Safety redefining it arbitrarily.

An NHL Player Safety source tells Yahoo Sports that the department felt Kadri had delivered a “full body hit with some head contact” and that it was a play determined “close, but not a suspension.”

One of the primary issues with this ruling, according to Player Safety, was a lack of definitive video evidence.

Even the clearest angle on the hit was from Sedin’s back, and his body obscured much of the head contact.

You can see Kadri hit the shoulder. You can him make contact with the head. You can see the head snap back. But you couldn’t see if the head was the main point of contact or if the head snaps back due to the force of the shoulder hit.

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We felt the NHL might suspend Kadri for charging, rather than any head-shot violation. But on other charging suspensions under Stephane Quintal’s regime in Player Safety, there’s been an emphasis on players lifting up at the end of the hit and getting the head, as with Brayden Schenn on T.J. Oshie and Niklas Kronwall launching into a hit on Nikita Kucherov.

So no hearing for Kadri on the hit. And before anyone starts throwing dung at the wall about Toronto/East Coast/Anti-Swede bias, we’re talking about a Toronto Maple Leafs player that was suspended four games last season and four games in the 2014-15 by this same department.

He’s a sneaky dirty player whom the NHL isn’t going to hesitate to suspend again. But they didn’t think this one fit the criteria; or if it did, there wasn’t video evidence to support that. And if you’re someone that’s constantly bemoaning the inconsistency of NHL Player Safety but wants them to reshape their standards to fit a hit you don’t like, then maybe inconsistency is what you want after all.

UPDATE: The Canucks’ statement on the ruling:

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Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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