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Lightning’s Connolly injures Panthers prospect with controversial hit

Dec 13, 2011, 1:38 PM EDT

Brett Connolly Getty Images

There’s plenty of buzz coming from Canada’s world junior selection camp after Tampa Bay rookie Brett Connolly took out Florda Panthers prospect Quinton Howden during an intra-squad scrimmage.

(Watch the hit here.)

Howden was crushed along the boards midway through the second period of Monday night’s game and struggled to leave the ice. He went to the dressing room and did not return — Hockey Canada later said Howden has an upper-body injury and will be re-evaluated today.

“It’s a tough play,” Connolly said. “I’m just trying to finish my check and he’s kind of in a vulnerable position. I mean, if I was to go back maybe I would have held up a little bit, but I’m just trying to be intense and finish my checks and obviously I feel bad now. Hopefully he’s not hurt too bad, but definitely could have held up a little bit.”

The hit has come under fire from pundits.

“I didn’t like the hit at all,” said TSN’s Ray Ferraro. “I thought it was a hit that didn’t belong in a scrimmage at all. In particular, a hit on an opponent that’s going to be a teammate of yours in a couple of days.”

Ferraro’s TSN cohort, Bob McKenzie, echoed those sentiments.

“I thought it was an unnecessary hit as well,” he said. “More importantly, it would be a hit that if you were in the World Junior Championship quite likely would’ve resulted in a five-minute major.”

Connolly was loaned to Canada’s junior team after posting 4G-4A-8pTS in 28 games with the Lightning this season. Howden, taken 25th overall by Florida at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, has 29 points in 20 games for the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors.

  1. rca26 - Dec 13, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    Connolly’s a twig and the last guy I would have ever expected to be injuring someone.

  2. lsxphotog - Dec 13, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    Hmmm, he didn’t do anything illegal from what I can see. No charging, boarding, or illegal contact. The guy had his head down and he was hit and got hurt. I think everyone is overreacting but it was indeed a scrimmage, usually minimal contact, not full-body checks.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 13, 2011 at 3:24 PM

      It’s just a scrimmage, but all these guys are trying to make the team. Seems something like this happens almost every year at this camp

    • hibackhand - Dec 13, 2011 at 4:28 PM

      always someone saying “had his head down” like it’s some green light to bash someone as hard as possible. Sure, he should watch for the possibility of being hit, nobody disputes that; but it’s that culture of shrugging and saying “it’s his own fault” being repeated over and over that is to some degree part of the problem.

      • lsxphotog - Dec 13, 2011 at 6:01 PM

        Have you ever played any sport ever? Having your head down not only increases the likeliness of being hit, but it increases the risk of injury by increasing the inertia of the head during a hit – the whiplash effect. I’ve had my fare share of injuries from keeping my head down. If you don’t know how to brace yourself for a hit, you’re going to be in a bad way. I’ve been playing for over 20 years and it wasn’t until I was about 15/16 when I was injured from hitting the boards that I finally started skating with my head up at all times and practiced puck control more than ever.

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