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Fraser: Comparing Zetterberg's stick to Kassian's hit

Kerry Fraser
11/1/2013 2:21:01 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca!

Hi Kerry,

Here's an interesting one.

I know it's common knowledge that all players are responsible for their sticks. We witnessed that when Zack Kassian hit Edmonton's Sam Gagner in the face after a missed check. He received a five-game suspension plus the remainder of the pre-season.

On Wednesday, Henrik Zetterberg fell down and came over the top with his stick. The lumber struck Dan Hamhuis of Vancouver in the mouth cutting him profusely.

Both incidences were very similar, no? A player out of control and swinging his stick recklessly. But why was Zetterberg's forgiven if he should have been accountable for his stick as well?

Thanks for any clarification.

Art We

Art:

Thank you for your question. The most obvious similarity on the two plays you reference is that injury resulted to both Sam Gagner and Dan Hamhuis; albeit in varying degrees of severity (broken jaw vs. substantial cut to lip). Beyond that I see considerable differences that exist when considering the potential for player suspension.

I would argue that Zack Kassian was in control of his stick when he swung it with purpose in an attempt to make some form of contact with Sam Gagner once the Oiler forward stopped hard to avoid the body check that Kassian was in the process of delivering. I don't believe for a second that Zack Kassian intended for the swing to catch Gagner in the face and break his jaw. None the less, that was the unfortunate result of the wild stick swing used as part of an intended, but missed body check. Kassian received the appropriate double minor penalty on the ice at the time of the incident.

The careless manner (video link) with which Henrik Zetterberg brought his stick down hard as he was rolling over to regain his feet following an awkward tumble falls within the spirit and intent of the high-sticking rule. Rule references: 60.1 (Players must be in control and responsible for his stick) and 60.3 (When a player carries or holds any part of his stick above the shoulders of the opponent so that injury results, the Referee shall assess a double-minor penalty for all contact that causes an injury, whether accidental or careless, in the opinion of the Referee.)  Henrik Zetterberg should have been assessed a double minor on the play but no call resulted from the high-sticking infraction. Any of the four Officials could have made this call as a result of the injury to Dan Hamhuis.

While the call on the ice should have been the same in both cases there are distinct differences between these two plays when supplemental discipline is being considered. Henrik Zetterberg was in a prone position on the ice and the momentum of rolling onto to his knees included his stick travelling over the top accidentally striking Dan Hamhuis. This lack of responsibility and control by Zetterberg was careless for sure but not worthy of a suspension.

Zack Kassian on the other hand had his skates under him and I submit swung his stick intending to make contact with his opponent in some manner.  The deliberation of this act and the severity of the injury that resulted are worthy of a suspension.

Wishing everyone a very safe and blessed All Saints and All Souls weekend.

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser


Kerry Fraser is an analyst for the NHL on TSN and That's Hockey 2Nite on TSN2. As one of the league's most recognizable senior referees, he's worked 1,904 NHL regular season games and 261 playoff games during his 37-year career.


Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca!


You can also follow Kerry Fraser on Twitter at @kfraserthecall!

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