Friday, December 6, 2013

Should Max Pacioretty Be Disciplined for this Hit on Johnny Boychuk?

Montreal's Max Pacioretty scored his ninth goal in his last nine games to lead Les Habitants to a big win over the Bruins on Thursday, but Pacioretty's biggest play came along the back boards when he laid a massive hit on Bruins' defenseman Johnny Boychuk (see above).

Boychuk needed to be wheeled off on a stretcher, but eventually returned to the Bell Centre, determined well enough to fly home to Boston with his team, but the extent of his injuries are still not known.

TSN's Ken Campbell thinks that Pacioretty deserves to be disciplined for what he deems a "reckless hit" on the vulnerable Boychuk. Here's his take from his morning column:

The hit stared out as an innocent-looking attempt to separate Boychuk from a puck that was approaching him along the boards. But as Pacioretty made contact, Boychuk turned to get the puck and the hit went from shoulder-to-shoulder to shoulder-to-back. If you’re arguing for a suspension, you could point out that while there was almost certainly no malice on Pacioretty’s part, it was a reckless play. Much of what made it reckless was that Pacioretty failed to let up and hit Boychuk while he was in a vulnerable position and a dangerous position from the boards.

Pacioretty received a minor penalty for boarding on the play, but you can be certain Shanahan will look at it hundreds of times tonight to determine whether it merits a hearing and supplemental suspension.

And it should. It was a reckless hit on a vulnerable opponent. The same way players have to be responsible for their sticks, they also have to be responsible for their bodies. These hits will keep happening unless they’re penalized with real consequences regardless of intent.

For the record, we agree with Campbell. The hit should be looked it. No malice, and the fact that Pacioretty got Boychuk from behind (ever so slightly) has a lot to do with the fact that Boychuk was angling into the boards to corral the puck. But while these types of hits are not malicious or even 100 percent intentional, they are the types of hits that are leading to a lot of players getting wheeled off on stretchers.

Shanahan and Co. should take a close look at this play and think about some type of discipline on Pacioretty. It could go a long way in terms of encouraging players to use caution and go in easier on these types of plays where opponents are vulnerable.