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Nick Foligno fined, but not suspended, for hit to head on Patrick Dwyer; Did NHL make the right choice?

Oct 15, 2010, 1:48 PM EDT

Nick Foligno

Perhaps I’m still a bit stuck in last year’s murky suspension realm, as it’s hard to say what should be a hit that’s over the line. The problem in making these determinations, for me at least, comes when a defending player makes a “hockey play” at full speed. It’s the same dilemma that the NFL faces when it comes to corner backs or safeties lighting up a prone wide receiver; there’s a certain level of responsibility a player has to protect himself, but you still need to penalize dangerous hits.

In other words, I think the NHL is doing a better job so far this season when it comes to legislating hits. (As far as behavioral stuff such as James Wisniewski getting a two-game suspension vs. Sean Avery getting a six-game suspension for the same general juvenile antics? Well, that I’m not so sure about.)

The league passed along news that Ottawa Senators forward Nick Foligno will not face a suspension for his open-ice hit on Carolina Hurricanes skater Patrick Dwyer. Instead, the NHL fined Foligno $2,500 for the hit and gave this explanation for their verdict.

“While there was no injury as a result of the hit, it is clear that Foligno delivered a shoulder check from the blind side that made primary contact with Dwyer’s head,” said NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell. “It is also clear that Foligno was delivering the hit in an attempt to get the puck. Finally, in determining that a fine was the appropriate discipline for this incident, I took into account that Foligno has not been suspended previously by the League.”

I’ve said this before and I’ll probably echo the point several times this season, but I’ve never been a fan of punishing hits or altercations based on the severity of injuries since that’s such a random thing. If a hit is a dirty or suspension-worthy hit, then it should carry a suspension whether the victim is in a hospital bed or scoring goals the next period.

I do agree that Foligno was attempting to get the puck, which is why this check is in that difficult gray area. He should get some kind of punishment since it is the type of hit that the league is trying to get rid of, but how do you walk the tight rope between making things reasonably safe and removing the physicality (and violence) that is inherent to playing defense in this sport? It’s a tough call, but these decisions will set a precedent for the rest of the season.

But enough of what I think about the hit, how do you feel? Should he have been suspended, fined or left alone altogether? Vote in the poll below.

  1. balewsquare - Oct 15, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    I don’t understand how this is not a suspension. The player made a lateral move and connected on what Campbell says was a “blind side [hit] that made primary contact with Dwyer’s head.” How is that not perfect for a suspension?

    • technicalfowler - Oct 15, 2010 at 9:33 PM

      Patrick Dwyer — not the hack unfunny Bill Dwyer.

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