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McKenzie: A reoccuring debate in the 2009 playoffs

Bob McKenzie
5/1/2009 9:45:04 PM
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In the first period of the series opener between the Red Wings and Ducks, Anaheim forward Mike Brown delivered a big hit on Detroit's Jiri Hudler. The result of which was Hudler facedown and bleeding on the ice.

The referee deemed that this was a late hit. There was a five-minute penalty for interference as they're allowed to call it. The question now is whether Brown will be punished further by the league.

If you go by what the general managers discuss, when they have their meetings, they say just because a guy has a free shot on a guy in the neutral zone, doesn't mean that you can take it every time, if he's in a vulnerable position and there's injury. The traditional view is keep your head up because if you're the last guy to touch the puck, you're fair game. There's really that conflict between those views and I don't know that they've ever fully come to terms with it in the National Hockey League.

Now the reason that Donald Brashear got five games was because it was such a severe injury. In last night's game, Ben Eager stepped up in the neutral zone on Rick Rypien and very similar type hit to what happened with Hudler, but Rypien wasn't injured. Eager got a two-minute minor instead of a five-minute major and there was no suspension for Eager.

I can tell you this, the Red Wings will be furious with this play. They will say it's a case of a marginal player, in this case a fourth liner Brown, targeting one of their skill players early in a series to try to send a message and take him out of the game. The Ducks will come back and say that's good tough hockey, keep your head up, don't admire your pass and everything is going to be fine.

It's really up to the National Hockey League to decide what is it that they want to do. I think the NHL is going to look at it and say it's a five-minute major, it happened midway through the first period, Mike Brown is out of this game, there was no severe injury to Hudler other than the blood, he came back and he's playing, and the Ducks had to play with 11 forwards the rest of the game. There may not be a suspension in this case.

Bob McKenzie

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