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Did Fisher's hit on Kaleta warrant a misconduct?

Mar 27, 2010, 2:15 PM EDT

Last night against the Buffalo Sabres late in the first period, Mike Fisher was given a five
minute major for boarding on Patrick Kaleta and then given a game
misconduct as well. It was similar to the hit by Alex Ovechkin on Brian
Campbell (of course, it’s not getting as much attention nationally) but
at the same time it wasn’t. It certainly didn’t appear on replays that
Fisher had shoved Kaleta to the boards; in fact, Fisher claims Kaleta
embellished the fall just a bit
:

“I didn’t touch him. He should be
playing soccer. I’m not going to
criticize. It’s a tough call to make if you’re a ways away. I saw the
replay and it was definitely a dive. He embarrassed himself.”

I’m
not one to completely discredit someone who falls into the boards that
hard. If Kaleta did a take dive there, it was an incredibly dumb thing to
do; he was hurt on the play and didn’t return to the game didn’t return to the game until the third period. But was this
truly a case of Fisher dangerously shoving Kaleta into the boards? Since
NHL.com doesn’t have the play on video, after the jump we go through a
series of photos to try to make the determination.

Kaleta and
Fisher were racing for the puck on an icing call, with Kaleta slowing
down directly in front of Fisher. Fisher has his hands up in a natural
position as he gets ready for what is most likely a violent crash into
the boards.

Fisher1.jpg

It’s something you see all the time, especially as two
players race to the puck. You can also see that Kaleta has the brakes
on in full, while Fisher does not. This is similar in car race, where
the car in front brakes quicker that the car on his bumper, creating a
bump and spin out.

Fisher2.jpg

So the issue at hand is whether Fisher extended
his hands out, and aided Kaleta to lose his balance and hit the boards.
This is just a split second after the first picture, as Fisher’s left
arm seems to be in almost the exact same position as before. Kaleta is
already starting to brace himself, leaning forward.

Fisher3.jpg

Kaleta loses
his balance and falls forward. He’s a good distance away from the
boards, and it’s a violent collision. It’s not something you want to
see. But Fishers left arm is still in almost the exact same position as
before. We can’t get a good look at his right, but how much of a shove
could he give him?

This really isn’t all that similar to
Ovechkin’s hit, as the players involved were in two separate positions.
Campbell and Ovechkin were racing for the puck, but Campbell came back
around and in front of Ovechkin and was then hit. Kaleta and Fisher were
racing side by side for the puck, with Kaleta getting front position on
Fisher as they braced to touch up the puck.

Fisher certainly
didn’t “hit” Kaleta, though there’s no doubt he had position directly
behind him. Should Fisher be at fault for having his hand on Kaleta’s
back, who then loses his balance and goes head first into the boards?

How
about the NHL enforce no-touch icing, like everyone wants, so that we
don’t have these type of ‘hits’ or falls any longer?

  1. Anonymous - Mar 27, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    Kaleta returned to the game, he played three shifts in the third period.
    That being said, I didn’t think much of the hit and I’m a Sabres fan. Should there be an additional suspension on top of the hit. No. Is it a dive, probably not, more likely a mix of losing an edge and embellishment.

  2. Brandon Worley - Mar 27, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    Thanks for the info. I’ll fix the post. Still, returning a period and a half later; at least something was wrong. I seriously doubt he’d just throw himself headfirst into the boards. Does look like he could have played it up a bit though.

  3. Mike - Mar 27, 2010 at 3:57 PM

    Only a complete idiot would intentionally dive headfirst into the boards. Pat Kaleta is an annoying pest, but he is not an idiot.
    To me it looked Kaleta got his skate caught in a rut on the ice and fell forward. Fisher did give him a bit of a shove, but it was not nearly as bad as the push Ovie gave Campbell. I was a bit surprised by the five and a game, but in light of recent hits it was understandable.
    Sabres fan here as well.

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