That had to hurt.
The Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks played to an entertaining and hard-fought 4-3 shootout final on Tuesday, but Jannik Hansen‘s hit to the head of Marian Hossa was what had fans talking after the latest rivalry instalment.
Early in the third period Hansen found himself behind Hossa battling for a puck overhead when in reaching up for possession he struck Hossa in the back of the helmet, knocking him down to the ice.
As the two came closer together Hansen appeared to reach for the puck but connected with a solid elbow to the head of Hossa, knocking him out of the game.
The injury was oddly familiar two two previous injuries to Chicago players. First of all Hossa was hit directly in front of the Blackhawks’ bench, in the same spot Raffi Torres injured him last season.
In addition, the puck flies above Hossa and Hansen much like it did when Duncan Keith caught Daniel Sedin with a vicious elbow last year.
Was this a subtle case of headshot payback, or was Hansen simply getting aggressive battling for a loose puck?
While the NHL is often guilty of assessing punishment suitable to the result rather than the crime, the Hansen hit on Hossa could fall under a much more logical hockey premise.
Players are accountable for all parts of the body as well as the stick, and Hansen clearly struck Hossa in the back of the head.Reasonable hockey minds will argue endlessly over whether Jannik Hansen deserves a suspension.
Without any history of play worthy of a supplementary discipline, he could escape any potential meeting without missing additional games, but is that justice for another seemingly concussed player?
Showing no malicious intent, Hansen may not deserve to be suspended for what unfortunately could be a hockey play.
The NHL shouldn’t assume he was able to make a split-second decision to take an open head shot, and without any previous incident they have no reason to believe so.
If two NHL referees didn’t see the play as worthy of initial punishment, will Brendan Shanahan be willing to over-rule them?
The NHL’s long history of suspending to the injury could come into play with any potential Hansen suspension, but a lack of previous disciplinary action will make any assumption of guilt fairly difficult.
Regardless of any decision pending from the NHL, the rivalry between the Canucks and Blackhawks cranked up another notch on Tuesday.
Vancouver’s late comeback attempt to dampen what became a sombre night for the Blackhawks after Hossa left the ice, and with only one regular season matchup the stage is set for April 22nd at Rogers Arena.
Tuesday’s win for the Blackhawks evened the season series between these two bitter rivals, and extended Chicago’s record regulation point streak to 16 games.