New York Rangers forward Rick Nash leveled Tomas Kopecky in a 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. Nash sped toward an unsuspecting Kopecky, left his feet, extended his arm and struck Kopecky in the back of the helmet.
Despite no penalty being called on the play, most hockey analysts believed Nash was due for some NHL discipline. Think again. Bob McKenzie of TSN reports that the NHL won't punish Nash for his controversial hit.
Remember, this is the type of hit the NHL is trying to remove from the game – a hit where a player goes out of his way to strike an opponent in the head. The NHL has stated, repeatedly, that they will punish any hit where there's intent to injure.
Well, almost every hit.
Puck Daddy offered their opinion as to why Nash escaped discipline, but even their reasons seem to be a bit of a stretch. Arguing the point of contact when the hitter leaps from his feet to initiate contact should be a pretty moot point. The fact Kopecky wasn't injured shouldn't come into play here. The NHL's ridiculous policy that a player's health should play a factor in the decision process is nonsensical. Kopecky might have escaped injury but another player might have had his career ended. Everyone is different. Punish the action, not the result.
Prior to the lockout and even during the lockout, NHL discipline was a topic of discussion. Numerous fans believed the NHL should abandon the Brendan Shanahan experiment and bring in a third party that can decide once and for all what's illegal and what's clean. Of course, this would mean the NHL would have to admit fault in their current policy and we all know that's not going to happen.
Consistency. All anyone wants is consistency. Fans (and players) want to know that Hit A will receive a suspension while Hit B will not.
Nash's hit looked like the perfect example of what NOT to do as an NHL player. Don't jump. Don't extend your arm to ensure you strike the opponent. Don't aim your elbow at another player's head. Simple. Instead, this hit has been deemed legal, further complicating the already confusing process.
Way to go, NHL.
UPDATE: Shanahan explained why this "rotten hit" wasn't a suspendable hit. Let the debate rage on.