Apr 17, 2010, 2:40 AM EDT
Update: Follow the jump for a still shot of the moment of impact of the hit.
It didn’t take long, but we may have our first round of controversy and drama in the playoffs.
Late in the first period of the Pittsburgh and Ottawa game, Jordan Leopold was skating the puck up the near boards in the neutral zone, when the Senators’ Andy Sutton laid a disastrously monster hit on the defenseman. Sutton was not penalized for the hit, and Leopold did not return to the game.
You can see video of the hit here, and it’s pretty obvious right away how dangerous a play like this might be. More on that in a bit.
First, let’s get to the drama that occurred after the game, when a reporter asked Sutton about the hit. You can see the video here, but here’s the transcript:
Reporter: You didn’t know your elbow came up and hit him in the head?
Sutton: Are you asking me or are you telling me?
Reporter: No, I’m asking you.
Sutton: Are you an expert?
Reporter: No, it was on the replay.
Sutton: So you’re an expert?
Reporter: No, it was on the replay.
Sutton: You saw it, you’re saying you saw it, you’re an expert.
Sutton: You’re not an expert.
Reporter: I saw it. I’m asking if you knew you got your elbow up.
Sutton: You’re telling me I got my elbow up?
Reporter: It was on the replay.
Sutton: So you’re an expert. You know it was up.
And….enter PR representative to get Sutton out of there.
Anyone else getting a “Who’s on first” vibe here?
After the jump, thoughts on the hit and a still frame look at the moment of impact.
Here’s a still frame look at the moment of impact. It’s not perfect, but you can see that Sutton’s elbow was tucked and his skates were on the ice. As much as I hate to see head injuries and as much as such devastating hits can hurt players, there little doubt that this was a clean hit. Leopold had his head down, didn’t see Sutton coming and then turned away at the last instant, making the hit much, much worse. But it was clean
Screenshot courtesy of Versus.
The original report is below.
The best thing that Andy Sutton could have done was to dismiss the question with a “no comment”. There’s no way he’s going to own up to hitting Leopold with his elbow, because that admission of guilt alone could earn him a suspension.
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, however, the NHL will not be handing out any supplemental discipline to Sutton as it’s been deemed a “clean hit”.
It certainly raises the eyebrows a bit that the hit has been dismissed so quickly, as it seemed that there was certainly some contact between elbow and head. Was his elbow raised for the hit? That’s debatable, but for a league that is seemingly so concerned with head injuries I’m surprised it’s been passed over so quickly.
This adds to the debate that if a player has his head down low, and an player making a hit makes contact with the head with his elbow, is it still illegal? I’m of a mind to say that this hit should be illegal, but as the rules are
now it’s not.
It’s also tough to say this was a ‘blind side’ hit, as Leopold turned at the very last instant as the hit was coming.
I’m sure that Pittsburgh fans aren’t going to be too happy with the non-suspension and lack of even a penalty.
Still, we should be thankful that we at least had this glorious exchange between player and reporter. You have to hand it to him; he never backed down in the face of a player who obviously was a bit angry with his line of questioning.
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