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Crosby Calls on NHL for Clarity of Illegal Hits After Tanev Misconduct

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Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby

Pittsburgh Penguins star center and the longtime face of the NHL, Sidney Crosby is calling on the NHL for clarity.

One month ago, Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson plastered Pittsburgh Penguins center Mark Jankowski with a t-bone hit near the red line, which sent Jankowski into the boards and onto the injury list. Last week, Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese caught Buffalo Sabres rookie center Dylan Cozens with a similar open-ice hit which flung Cozens awkwardly into the wall and injured Cozens.

And on Tuesday night, Penguins winger Brandon Tanev saw his chance to inflict a little pain on Boston Bruins defenseman Jared Tinordi after Tinordi crunched Penguins star center, Evgeni Malkin, earlier in the game. Tanev whizzed along the red line and nailed Tinordi on a similar perpendicular angle. Tinordi slammed into the wall, left the game, and Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said he’s unlikely to play on Thursday.

Three similar hits. Three injuries.

Wilson’s hit on Jankowski was a bit late, so Wilson received two minutes for the lateness but was otherwise unpunished.

Aston-Reese was not punished with a penalty or additional action.

Brandon Tanev received a five-minute major and a 10-minute game misconduct.

I didn’t think he had any intent there. I hope Tinordi is OK; he went in pretty awkward, but I don’t think there is any intent. I thought he hit him clean,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said.  “He hit him timely, as far as the puck being there.”

Hockey, specifically the NHL, has a little caveat amongst its guardians. Players are to protect themselves. In the parlance of our times, it’s a bit like victim-blaming. Jankowski was accused of admiring his dump-in too long and thus not braced for Wilson’s thump. Some quickly pointed out that Tinordi held his pose after firing the puck into the offensive zone.

But three hits. Three wildly differing penalties. Three players out of the lineup.

If you’re confused, you’re not alone. The face of hockey and a captain of Team Canada, Crosby would also like some clarification. Can anyone explain just what is legal and illegal?

“I hope (Tinordi) is OK. I hope as players we get some clarity on what’s a good hit and what’s not,” Crosby said. “It’s tough to really gauge when you’re out there. I know it’s fast, but right now, it’s really hard to know what is, in fact, clean and what’s not. And when you’re out there playing, it’s important that you do know that.”

For Sidney Crosby to broach a controversial topic, you know it’s serious. The longstanding vanguard of the hockey flame, passed to him by the all-time greats Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, avoids newsmaking opinions on controversial or frivolous matters.

Crosby puts hockey first. But this time, Crosby put a serious matter on the NHL doorstep like he’s fed the puck to so many linemates before. And like so many of those soft passes, it is a perfect setup. Without being confrontational or bombastic, Crosby has officially raised the issue.

What are the rules??

If they’re going to err on the side of protecting us, I don’t think I’m ever going to argue that as a player, especially with Tinordi being hurt … I get it,” Crosby said. “And I think you see some hits throughout the league and especially in the first half of the season here. It’s hard as a player to know. We look at a hit, and we think, ‘oh, that’s a suspension.’

It’s not (a suspension), or we think it’s a penalty, and it’s not. And then you see (the Tanev hit and penalty). You don’t expect a five-minute major … I think it’s just it seems like it’s a little gray right now. And, you know, again, I’m never going to argue with them protecting us because I think that’s what they’re trying to do.”

Perhaps a little parsing of Crosby’s language is warranted.

If you’re going to protect the players, great. Protect them. Issue penalties. Issue supplemental discipline. But don’t decide games with a heavy penalty after equal hits have received nothing or a simple minor penalty.

The NFL adopted the “Defenseless Receiver” penalty so cornerbacks and safeties could no longer get their licks on receivers not braced for contact. Such a penalty would be heresy in NHL quarters. The league has done a marvelous job of cleaning up the game. Enforcers whose sole job is to fight another enforcer have vanished. Fighting is down. Cheap shots and aggressive stick fouls are way down, too.

It’s not a conversation in which fans will get to participate. Still, it surely is time to define clean and illegal far more closely than the current and loose, individual interpretations.

I think it’s important that we understand that,” Sidney Crosby concluded.

The game’s leader made a necessary and reasonable request. If the league doesn’t hop-to, more players will have to say the same because if they don’t, more players will leave in the same.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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David Heyl
8 months ago

What is your opinion on Marchand stick hit to Guentzel head after the Tanev penalty? The timing etc and he only got 2 minutes?

Bert Stein
Bert Stein
8 months ago
Reply to  David Heyl

Marchand gets away with murder in the NHL. He may well be the dirtiest player in the league; if they actually enforced the rules as written he’d get 6-8 PIM every game. Maybe more.

At least he was penalized for hitting Jake. He likely put Blueger on IR with his late cross-checks to 53’s back/neck and pulling on Blueger’s chinstrap, tweaking his neck. Apparently, like so many of Marchand’s cheap shots and dirty moves, all that happened while the refs were on break.

Michael Startari
Michael Startari
8 months ago

BS call. Was not a late hit. Was not a hit from behind. Was not a headshot. It was a hockey hit with an unfortunate result. How did the ref who was right there not call a penalty but then reviewed it and saw all of the above things I mentioned and still called it the way they saw it. I’m glad Sid spoke up. That’s what a leader does.

Tdman
Tdman
8 months ago

No BS. Automatic call, Tanev came from across the ice to hit Tinordi. He took 6 strides and accelerated into Tinordi from across the ice. Read rules 603 Boarding and 607 Charging. Clear intent and clear violation of the rules. Use your head, not your feelings on the call. It was an easy call for the officials. If you don’t agree, you don’t respect the safety of players.

Bert Stein
Bert Stein
8 months ago
Reply to  Tdman

Nonsense. Nothing about that call was “automatic.” Charging, maybe, but charging is what Tom Wilson does virtually every shift. If the objective is player safety, then Wilson should get a game misconduct every night. Tanev may have taken six strides before hitting Tinordi, but your argument presupposes Tinordi was standing there like a road pylon; it doesn’t take six strides worth of time to gather the puck and shoot it in. That’s silly. Tanev was pursuing the puck and took advantage of an opportunity to hit someone that presented itself. He’s 4th in the league in hits, and yet doesn’t… Read more »

Thaddeus
Thaddeus
8 months ago

Everything you mentioned is correct other than he took 10 plus full tilt strides before the hit. Usually the precedent is 3, so he was well over that, and the idea of a hit is not to skate full blast from one end of the ice to the other and destroy a guy. I’m not sure about the boarding call because it’s not Tanev’s fault Tinordi was 5 feet from the boards, but this was definitely a text book charging call. If he wouldn’t have been travelling at that speed after taking that many strides right before contact Tinordi wouldn’t… Read more »

Ilja
Ilja (@ilja)
8 months ago

Even money that Blueger’s “upper body” means his neck. A couple cross-checks to the neck (what Jack Edwards calls ‘good, aggressive hockey’), Pasta suckerpunching Teddy followed closely by Marchand jerking on his chinstrap from behind (literal, not metaphorical) is all it would take to displace the axis verterbrae, pinch a nerve and put a guy on the IR.

Perhaps Boston plays hard, perhaps the Pens could be ‘tougher’. But frankly, all the gutter, chippy, after-the-whistle stuff Boston can’t seem to exist without has gotten old. I’m not happy Tinordi is injured; doesn’t change the fact that karma is beyotch.

Last edited 8 months ago by Ilja
Bert Stein
Bert Stein
8 months ago
Reply to  Ilja

You’re all over it. Even money is probably low odds.

kerryd
kerryd
8 months ago

What irked me was that NO penalty was called on the play – until after Tinordi stayed down on the ice and the play was stopped.

Had Tinordi gotten up and skated to the bench right after the hit, NO penalty would have been called.

The refs didn’t decide it was a penalty until they’d had time to get together and talk about it, which is BS.

Basically it amounted to attempted match fixing by the officials.

CryMeThreeRivers
CryMeThreeRivers
8 months ago
Reply to  kerryd

How do you get to match fixing?! What a ridiculous conclusion to draw. It’s pretty obvious that they’re trying to protect the players, as Sid said repeatedly himself. The Bruins didn’t score on the PP and you still lost. Stop whining and take your L, what a soft city.

Bert Stein
Bert Stein
8 months ago

One of the Penguins’ most impactful players — who’s already scored a goal — was assessed a major and a game misconduct for a minor infraction. If you don’t think that can change the outcome of a game, you live in fantasyland.

Don’t hit me
Don’t hit me
8 months ago

I think Crosby is a great player, but a cry baby and has been thru his all carrier, he is always crying to the officials.

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