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Video: Canucks’ Bitz ejected for boarding Kings’ Clifford

Apr 12, 2012, 1:16 AM EDT

It didn’t take long for things to get ugly between the Canucks and Kings.

Midway through the second period of LA’s 4-2 win on Wednesday night, Vancouver forward Byron Bitz — who’d only recently broke back into the lineup after an extended stay in AHL Chicago — caught Kings forward Kyle Clifford with this nasty hit:

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Bitz was given a five minute boarding major on the play and a game misconduct. Clifford left the contest and didn’t return, with the Kings announcing he’d suffered an upper body injury. (Early speculation was a possible concussion — Clifford looked woozy trying to leave the ice.)

This could be just one of the plays NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan reviews tomorrow. Late in Nashville’s 3-2 victory over Detroit, Predators defenseman Shea Weber slammed Henrik Zetterberg’s head into the end-boards glass.

  1. ray2013 - Apr 12, 2012 at 1:40 AM

    They gave a five-minute major and a game misconduct. If this was a regular season game, maybe it’s a 1-3 game suspension. I’m not sure it will be much more than what was already handed out.

    Just curious about something, since we’ve seen a lot of hits like this in the past year or two. When did coaches stop teaching players to turn their bodies to the side when they are near the boards? We always were taught not to have our numbers facing the middle of the ice when we were near the boards because someone could drill you into the boards and you wouldn’t have much chance to protect yourself.

    • drewsylvania - Apr 12, 2012 at 11:31 AM

      These days I suspect they’re taught to do it on purpose, because apparently getting concussed is worth a potential major penalty.

      /SMH

      • ray2013 - Apr 12, 2012 at 11:38 AM

        I’ve heard something crazy like that also. At the end of the day, it’s a high-paid game they play. I wouldn’t risk post-concussion syndrome or CTE for a 2 or 5 minute penalty in which we may or may not score.

  2. dolanster - Apr 12, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    Clifford was already dealing with one guy on his right when Bitz came blazing in on him. Really cannot blame Clifford here.

  3. ray2013 - Apr 12, 2012 at 1:51 AM

    You’re right dolanster. I just guess I’m getting old; I remember when you didn’t turn your numbers to the middle of the ice, and you also didn’t hit anyone in the numbers because you didn’t want to hurt anyone like this.

  4. elvispocomo - Apr 12, 2012 at 2:04 AM

    I agree about not turning your back, and Clifford does do that after seeing Bits coming at him from behind the net. I wouldn’t say it was immediately before, so it gave Bitz a split-second longer to let up, but he still hits the shoulder (no elbow) which puts Clifford into the boards head first. The penalty and game is enough, I don’t see anything extra happening.

    • warpstonebc - Apr 12, 2012 at 10:01 AM

      Elvis, as a fellow Canucks fan, it’s a rotten hit. Bitz warrants a suspension and deserved the major and a game.

      You can’t have it both ways. A play like Rome’s hit against Horton was at least a north-south hit gone badly wrong. But Bitz went after a vulnerable player and while it’s not as obvious a douche-move as Duncan Keith’s elbow, it’s still an awfully cheap and dirty play.

      It’s also a dumb play, which is even worse if you’re a Vancouver fan. Taking penalties for physical play like Kassian and Lapierre’s hits are fine. Taking penalties for snow showers and dirty hits is not. We learned the Canucks are actually doing alright 5 on 5 against the Kings, which makes the dumb penalties so much worse to give up.

  5. thatsdoinit - Apr 12, 2012 at 3:19 AM

    Okay Elvis. Watch the video again. This time be objective and not a homer.

    Bitz is looking at numbers practically the whole way into the corner. He didn’t let up, and he targeted Clifford in such a way that his head was sandwiched into the glass.

    I know Bitz was trying to make a big hit and fire up the team. Yes, I am aware of the intensity of playoff hockey, but you’re a delusional homer if you think this isn’t suspension worthy.

    Did Bitz mean to headshot and injure Clifford? Doubtful, and in this day and age I would hope not. Did it happen that way, intentional or not? Absolutely.

    You can’t avoid suspension when your defense is “Well, I didn’t mean to.”

    • kitshky - Apr 12, 2012 at 3:50 AM

      Well said. No one would accuse intent but end of the day … he saw nothin but numbers and made a bad decision.

    • homelanddefense - Apr 12, 2012 at 9:24 AM

      Yeah I think Elvis needs to take off his Nucks jersey and watch the vid again. Bitz skates from the net, the whole time he is looking at numbers.

      • dangle13x - Apr 12, 2012 at 11:42 AM

        shocker. A dumb Canadian can’t admit when he’s wrong. Alert the press.

      • elvispocomo - Apr 12, 2012 at 8:51 PM

        Stay classy, dangle. You don’t want to get a debate going about dumb Canadians versus dumb Americans. People in glass houses and all that…

    • elvispocomo - Apr 12, 2012 at 8:49 PM

      I still disagree about the suspension, but I never said it was a good hit. Bitz had time to let up and should have done so. As it was he didn’t hit him directly from behind, he hit through the shoulder – albeit from the back. They’re coming at right angles to each other and Clifford turns mostly to the boards but then turns back somewhat. He never lines him up square in the numbers like people are suggesting and I certainly wouldn’t call it predatory. I’d argue Weber’s incident was much more predatory than this one yet he gets a fine.

      So to recap, I would have been fine with the penalties on the ice in this case, especially after hearing that Weber had to pay $2500 for his. Shanahan went for more, and I can see his logic, but would this have been worth double/triple that amount in the regular season? Shanahan has already said playoff games are worth significantly more than regular season games.

      http://prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com/2012/03/21/shanahan-on-suspensions-playoff-games-dont-equal-regular-season-games/

  6. bergeronforselke - Apr 12, 2012 at 7:43 AM

    Pure headshot…..suspension incoming the way i see it

    • back2backbees - Apr 12, 2012 at 9:50 AM

      3 games i suspect

      • warpstonebc - Apr 12, 2012 at 12:23 PM

        The thing is that this is technically worse than Rome’s hit last year. In Shannahan’s terminology, Rome’s hit is a bad instinctive hit. However, Bitz’s is predatory, pure and simple.

        This suspension is almost a way to see what Shanny would have given in Mike Murphy’s place last year, since Bitz deserves a harsher penalty by this year’s norms.

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