Puck Daddy - NHL

For any other player, an elbow to the head of an opponent who had dropped to one knee might earn the benefit of the doubt as an unfortunate collision. But not for Dan Carcillo(notes) of the Philadelphia Flyers, suspended twice last season; and not for the NHL, which seems to be making up for lost time with its focus on legislating against hits involving the head.

Here's the play from the third period of last night's Flyers' win over the New York Rangers, in which Carcillo drilled Ruslan Fedotenko(notes) in the noggin:

Thus begins the homer-rific spinning of the incident. The Philly announcers claim Fedotenko was falling and Carcillo "can't control his body." Rangers Coach John Tortorella felt it was exactly the sort of hit the NHL's trying to eliminate: "We get these tapes sent to us during the summer and the beginning of the year. Why send them? It's a waste."

Carcillo and Fedotenko both spoke about the incident as well, in starkly contrasting terms. And in the Rangers' winger's case, he conveyed a message from the referee that has the some outraged.

Here's Carcillo, via Chuck Gormley of the Post Courier, after last night's game:

Replays indicate Carcillo got his elbow up on Fedotenko, who was falling to the ice when contact was made.

"I saw him in the middle of the ice and the puck was there," Carcillo said. "He kind of went down right when I got to him. My elbows were in. I know it looks bad, but I didn't try to hit his head or anything.

"I don't think anything (Tortorella) says is going to change anything. It is what it is. It's not like I took strides toward him. I know they're cracking down on that, so I imagine I'll get a phone call."

We imagine he's right on the phone call, but he's also right on the accusations of head-hunting. He wasn't taking several strides to run at Fedotenko, and if he left his feet it wasn't much before the hit.

As for Fedotenko, Andrew Gross from Rangers Rants had his thoughts:

Q: On the hit from Dan Carcillo...

"In the first one, I felt like it was hooking.  I was trying to shoot the first time, then the second time it was a shot to the head.  I'm sure the NHL will legally review it and see if it's a clear shot to the head or not.  I'm sure it will be addressed."

Q: I know that you had a chance to talk to the referee in front of the net when the whistle was blown a little bit later.  I guess you didn't get an explanation?

"No.  He said I shouldn't try to avoid the hit.  I mean, I was looking for the puck and trying to shoot it so I didn't even see him coming until the last second.  ‘Don't duck' was his explanation."

Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported that it was Marc Joannette who offered that advice; or as Brooks identified him, "one-half of the referee tandem including Justin St. Pierre that did not make a call."

Joe Yerdon of Pro Hockey Talk was a bit taken about by the "don't duck" comment:

Don't duck, eh? Tough to do if you're already falling to the ice. I'd imagine the NHL will also have a word with the referee in this case as well as Carcillo. With the new rule regarding blows to the head, it's no longer completely up to the players to totally avoid these hits, especially if you don't see the guy coming. Swallowing the whistle in these situations makes things about 1,000 times worse. It also means the referee saw the hit and didn't call anything anyway. So much for knowing the rule book.

At that point in the game, Joannette hadn't seen the replay, so he's not an expert (according to Andy Sutton(notes) Logic). He may have been in a position where it appeared Fedotenko "ducked" into the hit. Obviously, this wasn't the case; and obviously, Fedotenko sharing that message makes the referee look like an uncaring ass.

(What's with the Rangers and over-sharing about referees? Remember Sean Avery's(notes) claim that Paul Devorski told him to stay away from Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) because the New Jersey Devils winger is a star?)

This will be an interesting one. No serious injury on the play. No penalty on the ice. And, clearly, a player falling into a prone position. That said, an elbow to the head is still an elbow to the head, and Dan Carcillo is still Dan Carcillo. A one-gamer wouldn't shock us.

Or maybe Brandon Prust(notes) will be the end of the retribution against Carcillo ... for now.

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