Honest to goodness, I swear that the penalties for hits to the head (which the NHL is out for blood on this year) have nothing in it about the repercussions of that hit, or if the player's hurt or faking or whatnot. Here's the new rule (from NHL.com):
48.1 Illegal Check to the Head – A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principle point of contact is not permitted.
48.2 Minor Penalty - There is no provision for a minor penaltyfor this rule.
48.3 Major Penalty - For a violation of this rule, a major penalty shall be assessed (see 48.4).
48.6 Fines and Suspensions – Any player who incurs a total of two (2) game misconducts under this rule, in either regular League or playoff games, shall be suspended automatically for the next game his team plays. For each subsequent game misconduct penalty the automatic suspension shall be increased by one game.
If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion (refer to Rule 28).
And there we go. Fairly cut and dry, and fairly personified by this Joe Thornton hit to the head of David Perron Thursday night:
I am not calling Thornton a cheap shot artist, because he's not. He's not a dirty player, and I'm sure he didn't set out with the goal of creaming Perron with an elbow upside the noggin. It obviously hurt Perron, but did not jar him enough to prevent him from scoring a goal that same period. However, it did shake him up. Pain doesn't care if the person inflicting it is doing it intentionally, and the rule doesn't actually even care how much pain is inflicted - a hit like Thornton's, under the new NHL, is a suspension. Perron was nice about it after the game, saying, "I asked the guys who hit me actually, because I didn't know who it was," Perron said. "Obviously, Joe's not a dirty player. It's good I got to score a goal and it was a big one for us."
The Blues got the last word in that game, but a blogger for the San Jose Sharks, Jamie Baker, goes off on Perron instead of just accepting that Thornton made a mistake. To claim that Perron was at fault because he was "skating through the neutral zone with his head turning back to the defenseman" is a bit of a stretch. He was carrying the puck through the neutral zone when Thornton stepped out of the penalty box and promptly directed his attention to Perron. There was intent to hit. Whether there was intent to elbow to the head, I doubt, but it happened. To say Perron deserved it basically because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time is stretching it. I'm also completely hoping that the author was being sarcastic in where the blame was to be placed. The defense for a "suicide pass" up the middle? Everyone else not warning Perron Thornton was coming out onto the ice?
Or the best part of the op-ed: Frenchie was faking it. Yep, total stage and cake make-up on the welt on his face. Fakery, I tell you! FAKERY.
Of course, this was all written by someone who openly admits that he ran away from Wendell Clark (understandable,) soo...
Please bear with me because I am going to share a story with you. Back in 1994 when the Sharks were playing the Maple Leafs in the playoffs, I had a running feud with Wendell Clark. Wendell Clark, in case you aren’t aware, was as tough as they came – he hit, he fought, he scored, the ultimate power forward. In the first period of game 1, he smashed my face (I didn’t wear a visor) into the glass. I thought I broke my nose and had to leave the ice because it made my eyes water, and no, I wasn’t crying. The only crying allowed in hockey is when you lose a playoff series, retire or JR is speaking publicly.
So later in game one I retaliate behind the play and punch Clark in the face as we were heading up the ice. The beauty of this was Whitney and Falloon were on a 2-1 and scored so I scooted away from Clark and joined the post goal scrum – making sure I was right in the middle to protect myself.
So, it's ok to run away, but not ok to get hit upside the head and then score a goal. Fair enough. And I find it hard to believe that Perron was "mocking" the rules as he laid face-down on the ice unable to move. That's not a good time to stick out your tongue. You could get stuck.