Wednesday was an eventful night for Nazem Kadri and the Toronto Maple Leafs, and at the end of it all Kadri may possibly be under review for a suspension. At roughly the 10 minute mark of the opening frame Leafs forward Kadri ran over goaltender Niklas Backstrom and drove his elbow into his head as they collided. Kadri received a 2 minute minor penalty for goaltender interfence on the play, but although Backstrom did briefly remain in the game, he shortly after decided that he wasn’t feeling 100% and let his backup Josh Harding finish the rest of the game.
That collision with Backstrom however was not the only trouble Kadri would find himself in that night. With 11:22 remaining in the 3rd period Kadri checked Minnesota Wild’s forward Mikael Granlund into the boards with the primary point of contact being his head. Granlund was clearly shaken up on the play, but thankfully didn’t appear to be severely injured. This time around the officials must have had it with Kadri’s antic and reckless play as they slammed a 5 minute major and a match penalty down on him for a blatant attempt to injure the Wild forward.
“It’s beyond me the five-minute major,” said Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. “He made initial contact with the shoulder. The kid had his head down. He ran into the player. Granlund snapped his head back. Obviously the referees saw it differently. It was match penalty, it will be reviewed.”
This is just a coach doing what he’s suppose to by defending his player, but in reality, whether the contact was made with the shoulder or the elbow, a hit to the head is a head to the head. You can try and justify it all you want, but at the end of the day it’s up to the player delivering to check to proceed with it, or to stop themselves if the player they are checking is in vulnerable position. The Toronto Maple Leafs forward Kadri threw a reckless hit on an unsuspecting player, and will be reprimanded for it according to the standards set by Brendan Shanahan.
Kids in minor hockey have “Stop” signs on the back of their jerseys just above the numbers to warn those going in for a hit that if contact is made while you can see the stop sign. The player is in a vulnerable position and you should let up. It’s a shame to see so many players have complete disregard for the safety of their peers by delivering checks they know could significantly damage the opposing player. Hockey is a game that is very fast and decisions are made in a split second, but players have enough time to avoid hits from behind and checks to the head, they really have no excuse to not let up when they see the numbers, or see that the player has their head down.
It’s really a shame that the instigator rule has made it hard for the players to police the league themselves. Now if a player throws a dirty hit, all he has to deal with is a trip to the penalty box and a slap-on-the-wrist suspension that’s really nothing more than a short vacation. Without the instigator rule players would second-guess making that dirty hit because they know they would immediately have someone coming after them in defense of the player you just took out. With the instigator rule players who jump in to defend their teammates now hurt their entire team by receiving an additional penalty and potentially taking themselves off a powerplay, or even leaving the team short handed. We will find out in the next few days whether or not Toronto Maple Leafs forward Kadri will be suspended, but in all likelihood I expect him to sit for at least 2-5 games.
Kadri’s hit on Backstrom
Kadri’s hit on Granlund
By Brandon Webb