Right about now I’m sure the Quebec police department is contacting its colleagues at Columbus PD to form a joint investigation.
It’s obvious there’s a crime ring taking over the NHL and exacting punishment on some players with hits into the stanchions along the side walls. No one knows why this spree of malicious actions is taking place, but I’m sure law enforcement officials will be able to put their heads together and get to the bottom of the matter.
But seriously folks, last night, Columbus forward R.J. Umberger failed to heed the warnings from Montreal owner Geoff Molson and Air Canada and dared to finish his check near the Blue Jackets’ bench, where Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty hit his face into the stanchion separating the bench from the crowd.
Obviously, this isn’t a joking matter. Doughty, who was checked out by the medical staff and then played through the rest of the game, could’ve been seriously injured on the play. But this is more about perspective. We saw video of the Chris Neil “turnbuckle” hit on Scottie Upshall earlier this week. We have seen other similar plays over the years.
The Zdeno Chara/Max Pacioretty hit was — to use the word Chara keeps coming back to — unfortunate. It was not only unfortunate because Pacioretty hit into the stanchion, but because of the angle he hit it, the force he hit it after being checked by one of the strongest players in all of hockey, and the vulnerable position Pacioretty was in because he had already moved the puck a second earlier. In this hit, Doughty had the puck on his stick closer to the start of Umberger’s check.
Like Pacioretty’s contact with the stanchion in Montreal, Doughty’s was the result of a hit, but also an accident. No one in the NHL is trying to re-enact a WWE match by running another player into the “turnbuckle.” The sooner people accept that accidents happen and the league and NHLPA take steps to limit the occurrence of these unintended dangerous situations, the better off we all will be.