Last night in Vancouver the Canucks recorded a come-from-behind 4-3 overtime win on the strength of Brandon Sutter’s ‘wicked-wrister’ over the shoulder of Carolina Hurricanes goalie Eddie Lack just 32 seconds into the extra period.
The Canucks definitely showed some ‘grit’ in front of their hometown crowd to erase a 3-0 deficit to force overtime and the ultimate win. It was a non-penalty call that showed up on the Sportsnet broadcast during a stoppage in play with 14:45 remaining in the 3’rd period that had Stephanie @myregularface and JR @EnergyLegs29 with their nylons in a knot. In response to “Ask The Ref” via Twitter I provide the following assessment.
The replay clearly showed Canucks forward Jake Virtanen deliver a legal shoulder check on Joakim Nordstrom as the Canes player attempted to carry the puck out of his end zone near the blue line.
As Nordstrom fell to the ice and slid backwards toward the side wall Virtanen placed his right glove onto his opponent’s head.
Virtanen’s glove was strategically placed not to protect the head of his vulnerable opponent but instead, utilized in a WWE turnbuckle move to shove Nordstrom’s head into the side wall.
This type of deliberate, careless and dangerous form of illegal contact should redefine what constitutes an Illegal Head Check! At the very least this is a violation of roughing. It could be determined as boarding and if an injury had resulted a major and game misconduct would be the appropriate call. At the very top end of the scale, a player who slams his opponents head into the boards could be assessed a match penalty for deliberate attempt to injure.
There is some precedent on the books with regard to this sort of dangerous and illegal act. In game 1 of the first round of the 2012 playoff series between the Nashville Predators and the Detroit Red Wings Shea Weber was fined $2,500 (the maximum allowed under the CBA) for slamming Henrik Zetterberg’s head against the top dasher board as the game ending horn sounded.
Weber’s turnbuckle move was done in retaliation to a high hit delivered by Zetterberg. Fortunately for Zetterberg, the Nashville Predator narrowly missed with a solid roundhouse glove punch that would have likely resulted in more serious head trauma had it connected. In that game Weber was assessed a minor penalty for roughing at the 20:00 minute mark.
While there was no penalty called last night against Jake Virtanen, a maximum fine would certainly be in order from the Department of Player Safety. This is not a hockey play and must be eliminated.