Typically, todays news is usually thrown out with tomorrows trash. Most often misquotes or mischaracterization are best left alone for fear of creating further stink.
In good conscience, I just can't find my way clear to turn the other cheek in this instance. After reading the title, "Former Referee Kerry Fraser Says NHL Blew Call On Malkin Hit," in a Winnipeg Sun article I have to weigh in and clear the air and set the record straight!
In case you have not seen the article I provide it here:
Let me be perfectly clear, I did not state at any time, during a telephone interview with Winnipeg Sun reporter Ted Wyman, that the NHL blew the decision not to suspend Evgeni Malkin for his high hit on Winnipeg Captain Blake Wheeler!
I can only suspect that the title of the piece, which misrepresented the content and theme of my comments, was most likely inserted by editorial staff for dramatic effect in order to grab the attention of irate Jets fans.
Furthermore, I agree with statements made by my friend and former colleague at TSN, Craig Button, in addition to NHL spokesman John Dellapina representing the Department of Player Safety, with regard to the distinct differences between the two incidents. These differences were correctly applied under the current standard to impose a two game suspension to Jacob Trouba and no further discipline to Malkin, which I stated during the interview.
It is without debate that Jacob Trouba took an angle of approach and initiated contact that made Mark Stone's head the "principle point of contact" as described by Button. (For clarification, rule 48 says "main point of contact" but a minor difference in verbiage and semantics as far as I'm concerned.) In my comments to Wyman I also used the term "head pick" in my description as to the actions of Trouba that should result in a suspension. As such, there is no question in my mind that Jacob Trouba deserved the suspension that he was levied.
Malkin, on the other hand, approached from an angle that resulted in body to body contact through the shoulders; that under the current language and application of rule 48 ("attempt to hit squarely through the shoulders"), in almost every case eliminates the potential of supplementary discipline.
Where I take exception to the nature of contact delivered by Malkin (and many other players throughout the league) is when his skates left the ice, (contrary to Dellapina's statement) either prior to or simultaneously through the "hit", that resulted in some significant degree of contact with Wheeler's head!
Even though Wheeler lowered his posture and reached, demonstrating an intent to play the puck, Malkin had sufficient time and space to track the player that did play the puck (Mark Stuart). Worse yet, was Malkin's decision to elevate (leave the ice) and hit Wheeler high. This poor decision was needless and should even be considered reckless.
It is for this reason that I believe the illegal interference infraction committed by Malkin should have been elevated to a major and game misconduct as opposed to a minor penalty. However, under the current standard and criteria, which the DPS must base their decisions upon, the circumstances of the contact delivered by Malkin does not, I repeat... DOES NOT... warrant a suspension! Just for the record, the NHL did NOT blow the call!
Further conversation with Mr. Wyman took on a more philosophical tone as to how the NHL might move forward in their ongoing efforts to reduce head contact and hold players more accountable on plays of this nature.
I have said for some time that the culture of "hitting," where players' skates leave the ice to generate more velocity through contact, is a major contributing factor to head contact and potential trauma. While nothing will change at this point in the season, it would be my hope that players are forced to alter their current practice of leaving their feet while delivering a check.
I provide the balance of Ted Wyman's article which, for the most part, is as we discussed. I pass the puck to the NHLPA and their membership to assist the NHL in their efforts to provide a high level of entertaining competition in as safe an environment as possible.. bottom line - keep your skates on the ice boys!
Department of Player Safety ' working at getting it right': Fraser
TORONTO — Kerry Fraser wants to make it clear that he is not “ragging” on the Department of Player Safety.
He just wants to see a level of co-operation between the league and the NHL Players Association to get all head shots out of the game.
“They’re working at getting it right,” he said.
“There’s some precedent setting situations and I think personally we need to reset the table at the start of the season with the Players Association and say ‘Hey guys we’ve got to straighten this out, we can’t have guys launching upward.”
“I’m suggesting that as we continually see the evolution of fixing this and trying to get a culture change, we need to look at the method used to deliver a body check,” Fraser said. “The players are leaving their skates when their opponent is vulnerable to deliver excessive velocity that isn’t required. It’s a culture that has to change and the league can’t do it on their own. They have to get a buy-in from the Players Association, in the off-season and they need to start fresh.”