Many of us can already hear Brendan Shannahan saying “Thursday night in Denver, an incident occurred between the Detroit Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche.” You can see it here below, but trust me it isn’t for the faint of heart.
If you missed it, here’s what happened. About two minutes into the second period Cody McLeod lunged into Niklas Kronwall, who ended up being stretchered off the ice. Bleacher Report did a fantastic job of covering events as they unfolded and they’re worth checking out. The two teams coaches may summarize the different viewpoints on this hits best. According to Mike Kelly of The Sports Xchange, Mike Babcock thought it was a dirty hit, and commented “The good thing about that is they pay Shanny to figure that out, not me.” Patrick Roy, as predicted, didn’t see much wrong with it, saying “From the bench, I thought Kronwall turned his back at the last minute. Does that make it dirty? I guess Shanahan has to make a decision. From the bench I saw a defenseman turn his back at the last second. For anyone who knows the game it’s hard for a player to stop.”
Although Kronwall did turn at the last minute, McLeod had a chance to change his trajectory a bit to avoid this kind of devastation. You hear a lot about the NHL frowning on hits where the head is the ‘principal point of contact’. For this hit, the head was the exclusive point of contact. Avalanche fans were mostly classy, showing quiet respect once they realized the seriousness of the injury. Although if you were watching the Avalanche feed, you may have heard their color commentating team being thrilled that Kronwall was getting a ‘taste of his own medicine’ and many other homerisms to make them sound like disgusting human beings. That’s right Avalanche, your color commentators disgust me.
Kronwall was evaluated after being taken off the ice via stretcher with the help of Red Wings and Avalanche medical staff. He was able to move his arms a bit as he was being carried off the ice and was reported to have sensation in both arms and legs later in the broadcast. Per General Manager Ken Holland, he was not taken to a hospital but was diagnosed with a concussion. The force of McLeod’s hit was evident by the fact that the only other injury listed for Kronwall was lacerations on his ear. Yes, the hit had so much force behind it, Kronwall’s helmet actually sliced into his ear.
Dan DeKeyser took Kronwall’s spot on the top defensive pairing for the remainder of the game and it’s hard to argue with the results. With Brendan Smith being a healthy scratch for several games in favor of Brian Lashoff being in the line up, it’s easy to imagine Smith will get some time in the line up now and things will be re-evaluated when Kronwall is healthy again.
Harrison Mooney of Puck Daddy points out that this hit is entirely similar to one Maxime Lapierre laid on Dan Boyle a few nights ago. Mooney also points out that McLeod isn’t considered a repeat offender, but he has walked the line before.
Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press also stated that the concussion was described as “mild” and that Kronwall is expected to continue the road trip with his teammates to Phoenix.
Wings fans are unlikely to get my sympathy from the rest of the NHL world, where Kronwall has laid many a devastating hit. The legalities of such hits remain a subject of much debate, as any of the above article’s comment sections will plainly show. Regardless of if the hit on Kronwall is suspension worthy, it’s worth mentioning that there’s only one person to blame for it, and that person is me. I wrote an article about Darren Helm‘s road to recovery and he soon thereafter suffered a setback. I also wrote something about Kronwall two days ago and well, here we are. I am clearly suffering from a curse which brings harm upon players that I write about, a blogger’s reverse-Midas Touch.
I will now retire to sulk and feel shame. And possibly write something about Matt Cooke.