Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Love the column, read every one.
To get right to the point, why was Dennis Seidenberg's elbow to the head of Bobby Ryan on Friday night not even clued for a hearing? Ryan was clear shaken up on the play and did not return to the game. In my eyes, Seidenberg reached out to make contact and, intentional or not, caught Ryan right in the head. Some of whom I have spoken to said Ryan appeared to sell it a little, but even if so, it deserves a review, right? I mean, he didn't come back for a reason.
Given the number of suspensions handed out by the Player Safety Committee for illegal contact to the head and dangerous hits, I can appreciate why you might feel this play should have resulted in a formal hearing. I can assure you that the committee did review the play from all angles and determined the elbow delivered to the chin of Bobby Ryan did not warrant special attention. In this instance, I concur with their finding. Let me share some of the reasons why.
While Bobby Ryan was shaken up on the play we do not know to what extent. With just 3:25 remaining and the Sens ahead by a score of 4-2, it would make little sense for Ryan to return to the game even if he was capable. Following contact to the head of this nature, NHL protocol would require that Ryan be evaluated by the medical staff which would also prevent his return prior to the expiration of regulation time.
On the play it appears that Dennis Seidenberg was setting up and prepared to engage Bobby Ryan with body to body contact. Ryan altered his body posture and position when he initiated a stopping motion and pulled back to avoid or minimize contact. Seidenberg countered Ryan's altered posture with an extended hand and elbow at the last second resulting in a glancing blow to Bobby Ryan's chin. Seidenberg also looked away from his opponent as he extended to make contact.
Following the contact, Bobby Ryan did have some spring in his legs as he jumped backward and fell to the ice. This reaction might give the impression some embellishment took place. There was sufficient impact to Ryan's chin from the glancing blow however that created a "whip-lash" action and stunned the Ottawa star so I would not want to suggest that Bobby Ryan was simply trying to sell the call.
I see this as an illegal attempt by Dennis Seidenberg to make himself bigger and to initiate contact a split second after Bobby Ryan altered his posture. I do not see it as a deliberate attempt by Seidenberg to injure Bobby Ryan with the use of his elbow.
This was clearly a missed elbowing penalty by the referee. As a result of the apparent injury sustained to the head of Bobby Ryan, a major penalty and automatic game misconduct should have been assessed to Dennis Seidenberg of the Boston Bruins.