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Video: Eric Nystrom’s hit on Kris Letang

Feb 29, 2012, 9:10 PM EDT

The Pittsburgh Penguins don’t visit the Dallas Stars very often, but Eric Nystrom might just make it easy for the two teams to find some vitriol in their rare matches. Nystrom knocked Penguins defenseman Kris Letang out of tonight’s game with this hit, which will surely be debated in many hockey circles:

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Not debatable: this hit has scary implications for Letang and the Penguins since the defenseman already fought off a concussion thanks to a Max Pacioretty hit this season. (Note: it’s too early to know if that’s what Letang is dealing with, but it’s the natural fear.)

Debatable: the punishment that Nystrom deserves. Should he be suspended, fined or merely draw Pittsburgh’s ire for the rest of this game? Let us know in the comments.

For what it’s worth, Mike Milbury thinks that Nystrom should sit five games for the hit:

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  1. heymangold - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:19 PM

    what should he be suspended for? a hard hit, shoulder to chest of an opposing player? i think it was a good, hard hit.

    • pens5829 - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:24 PM

      How much have you had to drink tonight?

    • gbiscottagecheesefatties - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:56 PM

      look at all the Pens fans with the thumbs down. HOMERS!

      Clean hit, didn’t target the head, just unreal bad timing when Letang decided to move from the check, placing his head near Nystroms arm… Nystrom did not extend his elbow, kept it clean to the body… fast paced play, hard check.

      Sucks cuz letang is a great player but his head was down. guess what happens.

  2. sportsfreak13 - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    Tough call. I’m a pens fan and devastated by this. Letang did change the position of his head when he lunged to Poke the puck but nystrom did make contact wit the head. I don’t like nystrom ignoring the puck and going for the big hit but you can’t suspend fo poor decision making. I say 2 games but would understand just a fine.

    • pens5829 - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:25 PM

      5 games. Blatant headshot.

      • sportsfreak13 - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:30 PM

        But had letang not lunged for the puck nystrom might not have made any contact. Some responsibility has to be on the player receiving the hit.

      • pens5829 - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:37 PM

        While I agree that Letang had lunged for the puck, Nystrom made absolutely no attempt at the puck. By rule, each player is responsible for where they hit another player. Ask Matt Cooke and Letang himself. He himself was suspended for a hit much less borderline than Nystrom’s tonight. Each has “learned” the rules.

      • sportsfreak13 - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:44 PM

        True. I just hope letang is OK though because he’s VITAL to our team.

      • gbiscottagecheesefatties - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:57 PM

        @pens5829… oh you’re a Pens fan. Huh hardly noticed by your homer posts.

        thanks for your non-biased comments

      • hystoracle - Mar 1, 2012 at 11:46 AM

        SO I guess you aren’t allowed to Hit anymore in this league. If going for the puck was a prerequisite then they would outlaw body checking and we can play the ladies’ game. There have been thousands of open ice hits for over 100 years with the sole attempt to play the body and separate the man from the puck.

        If this was a playoff game that would be considered finishing your check.. HE didn’t aim for the head. The majority of the blow was actually to Letang’s shoulder. Letang put his head into the path. There should be no fine or suspension. It was a hockey play.

  3. aklolzer - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    Clean hit, I agree. Kept the elbows in, no way to avoid the face. Milbury should leave the suspension talk alone and beat up more kids.

    • aklolzer - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:56 PM

      malkin should be suspended for those slashes. And now, he hits Nystrom after a clean hit and punches him in the face while Nystrom was unsuspecting. If anything, thats the blindsided hit in this game and Malkin should be the one suspended.

      • pens5829 - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:54 PM

        Nystrom got off a lot easier than he should have tonight. But that’s not how the Pens roll. Get the points. Next man up. Move forward towards the playoffs.

    • pens5829 - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:52 PM

      Hmm? No way to avoid the face? How about going for the puck?

      • hystoracle - Mar 1, 2012 at 11:49 AM

        How about we put tutu’s on them and play ice capades. Hitting is part of the game.. Taking the body is what everyone screams at the players to do. Nystrom does it cleanly and gets railed for it because Letang gets re-concussed.. If you can’t take the hits don’t get on the ice.

    • gbiscottagecheesefatties - Mar 1, 2012 at 12:15 AM


      AGREED! I don’t blame Malkin for doing what he did, but it seems dumb to me. K great we get it, you’re not happy… well, guess what, he did nothing wrong.

  4. itchyjack - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    What’s with Mike Milbury getting all foamy at the mouth about Nystrom’s hit on LaTang?

    Not only was Mike a goon – so hypocrite much?….he has been wrong on just about every call he’s called out this season (it was a clean albeit rough hit)…and if it was a Penguin hitting a Star, he wouldn’t have even blinked. Time for NBCSports to put Mike out to pasture.

    • itsallniceonice - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:56 PM

      Did you even watch the video?

    • norge52 - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:03 PM

      Yeh, I was hoping JR was going to pop him in the shoulder/chest to prove his point! The re-plays indeed showed it was a hit to the shoulder/chest and that’s what snapped his head. Milbury was and still is a goon … his constant caveman comments about the “good ole days” when you took the wood to anyone whom parked in front of the goalie … and then there’s his remarks regarding Redwings being pussies because they won’t fight when baited! He’s a piece of work!

    • hystoracle - Mar 1, 2012 at 11:50 AM

      Milbury is a moron. Anyone taking credence or credibility from anything he says is a fool. He just likes to hear himself talk..

  5. wethog66 - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:30 PM

    Bourque’s hit on Backstrom was blatant, this is a little more vague. Nystrom didn’t stick his elbow out, and it was a bang/bang play. 2 games at most, if any.

  6. scottybcboy - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    Falls into the category of exploiting an opponent who is in a vulnerable position….3 games. I’m sure Shanny will have some bs reason to only give him a fine.

  7. grahamta79 - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:35 PM

    Bourque got 5 for his hit on Backstrom and that was a blatant elbow to the chin. This isn’t on that level.

  8. hockeyfan29 - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    All that needs to be said is that he needs to be suspended. Cooke gets suspended for less than that. A head shot is a head shot and unfortunately for Letang it might be his 2nd head injury of the season. Nystrom has a history of being dirty so I think he will be suspended for this hit. This was a avoidable hit and it was not. Nystrom didn’t even go for the puck. Maybe he needs to get his bell rung.

    • hystoracle - Mar 1, 2012 at 11:52 AM

      Cooke is a punk. With a loooooooonnnnnggggg History of dirty illegal plays. That is why he got suspended like he did. That and the Penguins asked the league to do it to send a message.

  9. hockinj25 - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    Primary contact was with the chest, he might have gotten a little bit on the chin. The way he fell made it look a lot worse than it was.

    • pens5829 - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:05 PM

      Are you drinking with Heymangold?

    • taytay099 - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:06 PM

      I’m pretty sure primary contact is shoulder to head, but it looks more like it was Letang’s fault. He went low to reach for it right as Nystrom lined him up for a hit. At around the 0:41 he tries to avoid getting hit and changes his path and kind of puts his head right into Nystrom’s shoulder. That’s a tough call because technically it is a headshot, but I don’t think it was intentional. Poor Letang is having a tough season.

  10. icelovinbrotha215 - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    This is the problem with head shots? When will the recepients of the check be held accountable? Nystrom’s arm was tucked in. Letang’s head was down. Let’s not have a rule allow puck handlers to develop bad habits. Play with your head up. We all saw what happened to Lindros.

    • hockeyfan29 - Mar 1, 2012 at 12:02 AM

      Look at the list of concussed players and tell them that most of them it’s there fault you goofball.

      • johninpa - Mar 1, 2012 at 8:52 AM

        If Nystrom plays the puck instead of trying to line Letang up for the big hit this never happens. You make the choice to go for the big hit and hurt the guy, you pay the price.

      • hystoracle - Mar 1, 2012 at 11:55 AM

        And how many times will we see guys taking the body and not the puck in the playoffs?? Like every other shift. Can’t legislate hitting out of the game. It was a clean check. Letang had the puck momentarily before Nystrom made contact with Letang’s shoulder/chest area.

  11. fleurysteeth - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:31 PM

    Update: The Franchise got their 2 points.

    • pens5829 - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:50 PM

      Next man up!

  12. hockeyfan29 - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:38 PM

    Headshots should be avoidable at all costs. Just keeping your arms and hands tight to your body doesn’t mean you can still get a piece of the head. Elbow or shoulder. No questions that there are too many concussions in the NHL. besides if it was a Dallas player y’all would have been really upset. SUSPEND THE PLAYER. He is a DIRTY player with a dirty past. Just look at Cooke’s history. Same situation.

  13. writeit22 - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:43 PM

    Bad hit- deserves suspension. THANK YOU FLUERY Thank you for a great great game tonight- Thank you Penguins for a fabulous game tongiht. Love you Staal- U R 2 much.

  14. stakex - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:58 PM

    The hit itself isn’t really that bad. The elbow is kept tucked in, he doesn’t leave his feet, and if Letang isn’t reaching there would be no head contact. By itself I don’t see that being suspension worthy.

    What might get Nystrom suspended though is the fact that he ignored the puck to throw the hit. While thats legal in most cases, and the hit itself was fairly (but not totaly) clean, when you combine them you get a dangerous situation… and an injury/headshot resulted from Nystrom’s choice to ignore the puck. That well might be suspension worthy.

    I will say that this one could go either way. I could see a 2-5 game suspension, or I could see nothing more then a fine. Shanahan has his hands full with this one, and someone is certainly not going to be happy no matter what he decides to do.

    • hystoracle - Mar 1, 2012 at 11:57 AM

      Given your explanation, I could see nothing at all.
      I’m sure Scott Stevens is glad he isn’t playing anymore. That guy was revered in his day for hits just like that one.

  15. itsallniceonice - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:00 PM

    After this hit ( no player with a cheap shot against the Penguins should be suspended even for one game for a while.

    • hockeyfan29 - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:44 PM

      Not discussing Cooke’s hit. Seen much worse from chara anyway.

      • itsallniceonice - Mar 1, 2012 at 12:31 AM

        I don’t think that Letang will be at the movie theater tomorrow.

    • malkamania - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:58 PM

      Cooke learned his lesson. He only has 26 PIMs this year in 63 games. Just to put that in prospective for you…Dallas only has two players on their team that has played the same amount of games with less PIMs.

      • itsallniceonice - Mar 1, 2012 at 12:29 AM

        Cooke shouldn’t even be playing hockey in the NHL. Ruined Savards career and has negatively impacted so many others there is no room for that in the NHL now.

        I completely respect what Cooke has done this year, showing what good hockey ability he actually possesses. I just think it’s a case of too little to late. He should have been made as an example and god knows what the person that actually will be will have to do, probably multiple Bertuzzi shenanigans.

      • malkamania - Mar 1, 2012 at 11:30 PM

        If Todd Bertuzzi can still earn a living in the NHL…Cooke should be allowed too…

  16. harryintexas - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:10 PM

    Mike Milbury: Worst Hockey Commentator EVER. His comment to Roenick was out of line. Is it his show? Who’s he to say JR shouldn’t be back?

    Now, as for the hit, that was a clean hit. They went on to show DIRTY hits after the game, and those were hits that TARGETED the head. Nystrom kept his arm tucked in, he didn’t throw an elbow out, he didn’t come up into the head. The bulk of the hit was to the shoulder & chest…clean…the way it should be, but since it was a Pen that got hit, it gives everyone something to talk about since they have been plagued by concussions lately.

    NBC, Milbury needs to go away (umm, why won’t he go after JR like he will a 12 year old?)…

  17. blomfeld - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:15 PM


    I’m actually at a loss for words here ? … and yet I’m not. I see “absolutely” nothing wrong with this play, period ! So what, some incidental contact and you “Liberace’s” are all up in arms ? What do you people expect to happen, when you have athletes in the year 2012 playing on a rink-size that was originally designed in 1860 ? Are these guys supposed to skate around completely avoiding each other ? … of course not ! This type of contact is “going” to happen and it will only get worse … at least until such time that the league and the owners stop pursuing “short term” revenue maximization, as opposed to “long term” viability ! In the meantime, you hypocritical pansies need to seriously “zip it” ! Either that, or go watch some other sport for your rainbow amusement !

    • malkamania - Mar 1, 2012 at 12:00 AM

      clearly you and your biggot remarks need to go back to 1860.

  18. malkamania - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:50 PM

    You have to at least make an attempt on the puck. He clearly viewed the puck…then decided to light Letang up instead. It’s clear the Stars are dirty though. Why else would Ott cheap shot and run his mouth all night and then run away twice when Asham wanted to go????

    • ithacamike - Mar 1, 2012 at 9:54 AM

      Actually, no you don’t…people play the body of the puck possesser all the time. Did you see Orpik’s hit on Jeff Skinner (also concussed earlier in the season) a few weeks back? Orpik didn’t play the puck at all and blasted Skinner instead. Pens’ fan lauded that hit because “Skinner had his head down”…well, didn’t Letang?

    • mattryannolan - Mar 1, 2012 at 10:59 AM

      Well this isn’t about Ott so don’t even try and start that up. If you just some ignorant person you’d take enough time to know Ott can’t do anything without being penalized so lord knows he gets his fair share of calls on his for “running his mouth”. Do a little research and keep your comments on topic and quit trying stir up something that has nothing to do with the CLEAN hit that happened.

      Hope Letang is ok. Maybe if we are lucky he will have to cut his hair as a result. Let’s be real… It is nasty!

      • malkamania - Mar 1, 2012 at 11:35 PM

        No. You’re right. Its about Nystrom…who Asham and Engeland also challenged and he skated away like a guttless sissy. Ott too…what does that say about Dallas…They can dish it out…but when it comes time to take your medicine…you run away…and don’t even get to call yourself winners…what a joke…

      • mattryannolan - Mar 2, 2012 at 4:50 AM

        So you are pissy about the hit and how it caused a concussion but throwing punches at each others face isn’t wrong? I fail to see your logic about it being some dirty hit by Nystrom and that his aim was to hurt. What the hell is a fight then? You’re purposely punching someone in the HEAD to inflict pain! We don’t know what was said and if either team WANTED to fight so the basis of the matter is don’t complain about a hit injuring someone on accident when intentionally hitting someone in the head is much more risky.

      • malkamania - Mar 4, 2012 at 9:02 PM

        I never said a word about concussions. All I said was that the hit was cheap. He had an opportunity to play the puck…instead he decided to take out the player. That’s dirty and by him turning down the fight…and Ott…they violated the code. Plain and simple. That tells me…and many other teams in the NHL…that in Dallas the code doesn’t matter…which means they are cheap and dirty…

  19. lindbergh9 - Mar 1, 2012 at 12:00 AM

    That was a cheap shot for sure!!!! Roenick is an absolute idiot!!!! Milbury is right and he deserves credit!!! Nystrom was not playin the puck and just lookin for blood like goons do and they should be tossed from the league!!! Taken out a player that is so above his talent level its sickening!

  20. tru2joelu4eva - Mar 1, 2012 at 12:30 AM


    • tru2joelu4eva - Mar 1, 2012 at 12:30 AM


  21. trinityeagle - Mar 1, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    Matt Cooke gets suspended for less because Matt Cooke has a proven streak of dirty plays. It is the repeated nature of his play that has EARNED him a reputation as a dirty player. Nystrom doesn’t have a history of intentional hits of this nature.

  22. gsr1191 - Mar 1, 2012 at 8:09 AM

    Pens fan here….not a dirty hit. Letang lowered his head a bit. If he would have went straight into the check it would have been a clean hit.

    Bylsma actually said so himself during an in game interview something along the lines of ” i would rather see letang not try and duck out of the way and just take the hit” not word for word but it was something like that

    • miketoasty - Mar 1, 2012 at 8:57 AM

      Pens fan here, it is a dirty hit. Letang may have lowered his head but it is still up to the other player to pull out from a hit if they feel the other player is in a vulnerable position.

      Bylsma said that he did not see a replay but would prefer that Letang go to the boards instead of going in head first, which is an obvious comment but doesn’t change the fact that Nystrom should have pulled up from the hit and done what he could to avoid it.

  23. jpelle82 - Mar 1, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    pens fan here as well. not a dirty hit but an unfortunate one. i dont like how nystrom ignores the puck but its pretty clear he wasnt going to win the race to it. he didnt hit letangs head, no elbow either. dont like the idea of letang being out but he plays on the edge and needs to be smarter than this, coach bylsma said it himself

  24. shannysux - Mar 1, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    stars fan here. we’ve had enough of our own guys out with concussions too. i wont say it’s ‘dirty’ because a few years ago that’s just a normal play, but now, this is a play that is being removed from the game. you can still put a body check on a guy to separate him from the puck, but these not even going for the puck hitting a guys head ones are going to get you suspended.

  25. dallasstars9 - Mar 1, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    I think Milbury should sit 5 days and then we can enjoy hockey without him! Dan Bylsma even said nothing was wrong with the hit and that he would have liked to see Letang not play the puck in that situation and make himself vulnerable.

  26. lsxphotog - Mar 1, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    The saturation of Pens fans will disagree, but it appeared he was going for a clean hit and nicked Letang’s chin. I don’t believe this is any way a deliberate play to injure, nor is it a blind-side hit, and Shanny shouldn’t suspend him. A fine for injury is appropriate.

  27. earlcampbellrules - Mar 1, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    Good Hit by Nystrom, that’s how you’re supposed to play hockey. Please get rid of Milbury already. he can go beat up 12 year olds playing against his kid.

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