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Hitchcock upset with Tarasenko hit: ‘It was a blow to the head’

Feb 22, 2013, 8:40 PM EDT

Toronto Maple Leafs v St. Louis Blues Getty Images

St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock is displeased with the hit that sidelined his star rookie, Vladimir Tarasenko.

“It’s a blow to the head,” Hitchcock told’s Lou Korac about the shot Tarasenko took from Colorado’s Mark Olver on Wednesday night. “Don’t care how it got there, whether it was a legit hockey play — it happens fast.

“It was a blow to the head. That was my concern.”

On Thursday, the NHL said there would be no fine or suspension for Olver.

On Friday, the Blues put Tarasenko on injured reserve, with Hitchcock telling Korac the young Russian forward has a ‘pretty severe’ facial laceration and ‘some form’ of concussion.

Tarasenko was taken to hospital on Wednesday and released in time to fly home with his Blues teammates.

He didn’t have a headache on Thursday but reportedly had one on Friday, partly why St. Louis put him on IR.

For Hitchcock, the problem with the Olver-Tarasenko hit goes beyond legality. The veteran head coach said the incident is part of a larger-scale discussion regarding young players, awareness, vulnerability and unsuspecting positions.

More, from Korac:

“Everybody says ‘well it’s a hockey play,’ or whatever. I think there’s a bigger picture for me here,” Hitchcock said. “It’s not so much Vladi, it’s all the young players.

“These are young players who are in unsuspecting situations. It just seems like there’s a lot of young players that are getting hurt because experienced players know where they can catch them in vulnerable situations That’s the part that bothers me.

“The hit is the hit. The part that really bothers me is all the young players who don’t expect to get hit and have to learn these type of lessons. [Colorado’s Gabriel] Landeskog or a Tarasenko, I’m sure there’s other ones, there’s lots of other ones and you just don’t like to see it.

“I wish there was a way that we could let the young guys play a little bit and not try to put them in unsuspecting [positions]. I don’t think in a million years he thought he would get hit in that situation.”


Blues put Tarasenko on injured reserve

Report: No disciplinary hearing for Avs’ Olver after Tarasenko hit

  1. eggserino - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    Hitchcock’s comment can easily be translated as, “Euros don’t know how to play the North American game.” I agree. How is this problem resolved, especially considering the NHL’s goal of being the most talented league in the world and the KHL’s goal of overpaying for talent?

    • 19to77 - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:14 PM

      Don Cherry? You know how to use the Internet?

    • stevedurbano - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:24 PM

      Excellent comment. Tarasenko excelled when he was able to take passes at center ice but has had a hard time moving the puck otherwise. You look at the really successful European players (Sellane, Datsyuk, etc) and they’ve been able to transcend to the NHL level. Volodya is young and may well excel, but he has to keep his head up.

    • eggserino - Feb 23, 2013 at 6:53 AM

      Y’all simmer down. I specifically was referencing the fact that the KHL does not have nearly as much hitting, has a larger ice surface, and has a totally different mentality when it comes to the physicality of the game. Many of the players don’t get to experience North American juniors hockey. They don’t learn how to protect themselves because they don’t have to.

      I have been doing everything I can afford to do tracking Tarasenko’s hockey efforts for the last 18 months, I was so excited about his migration to the NHL. If I’m a young, talented player from Russia, I have to seriously consider whether it’s worth it to play in the NHL. I can make more money, I don’t have to leave home, and I don’t have to deal with the hassle of adapting to a totally new culture as well as a new style of hockey.

  2. broadstbully33 - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:15 PM

    That’s a stupid racist comment.

  3. feedmetherock - Feb 23, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    Didn’t realize Jeff Skinner was a euro, or Petr Mueller, David Perron or Rick Nash. The problem is that guys go so hard into the boards and I think a lot of hits border on being from behind, but the game has become so fast that it I don’t think the refs pick it up. A lot of the 3rd and 4th liners are trying to be “energy” guys and go for the big hit, which often includes going for the kill shot, coming up high and leading with their elbows.

    Also, I think it is like the NFL, in that training is so advanced now that players are gettin bigger, faster and stronger and might eventually out grow the rink. It might eventually force a move to the Olympic size rinks if concussions continue to be a problem in the sport. The sport needs young stars and if young stars are getting knocked out of the game before their prime, then it is not good for the growth of the sport in the media.

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