NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan has decided not to issue any type of suspension (nor should he have) to Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers for his hit to the head of New Jersey Devils forward (and former Sabre) Dainius Zubrus.
The hit occured during last night’s 5-3 Devils’ victory in Buffalo. Zubrus lay on the ice for a period of time before being escorted to the New Jersey bench. He did return to play, which may have had an impact on today’s ruling.
The Myers hit on Zubrus was, in my eyes, a clean hit and there was absolutely no intent to injure the 6’5″ Devils forward. However, does anyone think, in the wake of Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic walking away scott-free after drilling Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (a play in which Lucic could have absolutely pulled up), that Shanahan felt he owed the Sabres a break?
This is all I will say on the subject. I have friends who are Bruins fans who, not surprisingly, call the Lucic hit clean. They say that, if he really wanted to hurt Miller, the goalie wouldn’t have skated off the ice on his own power. To that extent, I agree. However, Lucic could have absolutely pulled up and/or avoided the hit on Miller being that, according to rule 69.4 of the NHL rule book:
69.4 Contact Outside the Goal Crease - “If an attacking player initiates any contact with a goalkeeper, other than incidental contact, while the goalkeeper is outside his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.
When a goalkeeper has played the puck outside of his crease and is then prevented from returning to his crease area due to the deliberate actions of an attacking player, such player may be penalized for goalkeeper interference. Similarly, the goalkeeper may be penalized, if by his actions outside of his crease he deliberately interferes with an attacking player who is attempting to play the puck or an opponent.”
And, to that, I will say nothing more on the subject. It’s time for everyone involved, including the Sabres organization, to move on. While not forgetting the hit (or the player who delivered it), they play the Bruins next Wednesday, and there are bigger fish to fry. This cannot become a distraction from the real goals, which are to figure out what is ailing this underachieving Sabres team, and to walk out of First Niagara Center with the victory and two very important points.
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