Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall
will not be suspended or fined for his devastating hit on Flyers forward Jakub Voracek, an NHL official told The Wheel Deal blog.
Kronwall drew plenty of attention from the Flyers and their fans when midway through the second period he delivered a shoulder check that caught Voracek squarely in the head.
As a dazed Voracek lay on the ice – blood dripping from his mouth and his rigid arms momentarily motionless over his head – the Wells Fargo Center crowd fell quiet. The hit knocked Voracek out of the game and caused tempers to percolate between the teams.
Following Tuesday’s game, Kronwall said that he felt the hit was legal like many of his other trademark collisions this season against Edmonton’s Ales Hemsky, Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler and Flyers’ Daniel Briere.
It’s hard to imagine Brendan Shanahan, the league’s vice president of player safety, levying supplementary discipline against Kronwall since he didn’t leave his feet to deliver the hit. And while the head was the first point of contact, Voracek appeared to be slumped forward at the time of the collision.
According to the league official, Voracek’s head might have been seen as the principal point of contact, but only because it was the initial point of contact, and not due to Kronwall targeting the head but in the nature that Voracek approached the Wings’ defenseman.
There still remain some hits in the league where a player’s head – by nature of the way the player receiving the hit – dips, ducks, turns or moves just prior to contact with a legal check.
Kronwall did not leave his feet or lift an elbow, and he was not assessed a penalty for the hit, which according to the league was the correct call on the ice.
There have been no fewer than 17 players on a growing list of Kronwall victims that includes Dany Heatley, Teemu Selanne, Evander Kane, Radek Bonk, Vinny Prospal, Tim Jackman, and Ryan Clowe, who has been crushed on two separate occasions by the 6-foot, 190-pound blue liner.
Then there’s the gigantic hit that turned Kronwall’s name into a verb when he knocked out Chicago’s Martin Havlat during Game 3 of the 2009 Western Conference finals.
On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Daily News called Kronwall’s hit on Voracek one of the “most gruesome hits in recent Flyers memory”, ranking it with Scott Stevens’ colossal brain-jarring shot on Eric Lindros in the 2000 Eastern Conference finals.
It’s tough, if not completely off base, to compare Kronwall to Stevens, after all, Kronwall has never been suspended in his 7 ½-plus season career.
Instead of trying to find fault in Kronwall’s hits, when will opposing forwards learn to protect themselves and skate with their head up when he’s on the ice? Instead of reactively running at Kronwall after he’s already blown-up a guy, perhaps forwards need to be smarter about retrieving pucks along the half wall in their own zone.
Kronwall’s motive seems to be the same with every big hit: The opposition rims the puck around the boards and a forward tries to gather in the pass for a breakout of the defensive zone. But it’s usually when the forward looks down at his feet for the puck, and he’s pounded by an anticipating Kronwall who slides down from the point to drop a big, clean hit.Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill