Hits by Richards and Scuderi Suspendable or Not?


Written on 10/26/2009 by Jim Cerny

Frightening scene in Philly on Saturday where David Booth of the Panthers was laid out on a hit by Flyers captain Mike Richards.

Any time you see a player motionless on the ice and then being taken off, immobilized on a stretcher, it give you pause for how dangerous a game this great sport can be.

Fortunately Booth is already out of the hospital, being released yesterday after sustaining a concussion on the play. But it was still extremely scary to watch Booth absorb the hard hit after dropping a pass to his left, and then hit the ice head-first, and remain motionless thereafter.

If you have yet to do so, check out the hit here.

So what do you think? Clean hit by Richards? Or a dirty one, with intent to injure?

The referees called it one way and Colin Campbell saw it another, with the benefit of much video study, of course. The refs handed Richards a five-minute interference major, and a game misconduct for "intent to injure". Campbell, after much review, did not see reason to suspend Richards.

For the most part, the referees and Campbell were both right.

The refs were on the mark with the interference call, as Booth clearly had dished the puck before being leveled, and without the benefit of watching the replay, they had little recourse other than to toss Richards from the game with Booth out cold on the ice.

But with the benefit of studying the video at all speeds and from all angles, Campbell was correct not to suspend Richards. I do not think there was an intent to injure here. And I agree with Richards' post-game analysis that he was just trying to deliver a hard shoulder-to-shoulder check, which, unfortunately flipped Booth to the ice head-first.

"Everything happened so quickly," stated Richards. "I just wanted to separate him from the puck. Obviously, I am not trying to hurt him. I don't have a history of head shots, and I am not even sure it was a head shot."

I was in Montreal at the Bell Centre writing my final game story for the Rangers-Canadiens match that night, while also watching and listening to the reaction to Richards' hit on Hockey Night in Canada. It sounded as if the fellas agreed with my take, that it was interference, for sure, but not a suspendable hit.

In fact the HNIC on-air crew was more upset with a string of knee-to-knee hits that took place around the league that night.

Then last night, the Kings Rob Scuderi sent Columbus' Jason Chimera head-over-heels with a hip-check dangerously close to Chimera's knees. Chimera flipped over Scuderi and landed face-first on the ice,  suffering cuts on his face and inside his mouth.

You can watch that play here.

Scuderi was not penalized on the play, and claimed afterwards that he made a split-second decision on delivereing the hip-check and was not trying to injure Chimera.

Needless to say, Chimera did not agree.

''I don't care what you call it. It was a dirty hit,'' Chimera said. ''I've been hip-checked before, but this wasn't a hip check at all. It was a direct hit on the knees. I mean, I landed on my face on the ice, and my neck was squished against the ice. I'm lucky I didn't come out with a concussion or something."
I have to side with Chimera on this one. Scuderi went way too low, much lower than your normal hip-check. Whether that was his intention or not can be debated.

Ironically when the game was complete, Chimera had racked up 12 minutes in penalties, and Scuderi had zero.

Scuderi needs to pay a post-game penalty for that hit, I think, perhaps two games for going for the knees

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  1. Joe Adler |


    I agree on the Scuderi hit...it was low and should be punished with a fine or 1-2 game suspension. I don't think there was intent to injure there, but it needs to be punished.

    As for Richards...intent or no intent, the NHL says they want to crack down on hits to the head and this was one of them. I don't think that Richards is a dirty player, but he should be punished for this one. In my opinion, it should be at LEAST a 1 game suspension. If the league wants to crack down on hits to the head, it can't keep ignoring it (or saying it was a legal hit) when star players are involved.

  2. Anonymous |

    Very valid points. I'm just not sure the Richards hit was even to the head. It was up high, but the real damage to Booth's head was when he hit the ice. That play is about as fine a line as you will see this season. Can't say you are wrong or that I am 100% correct.


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