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Why was there no penalty on Clayton Stoner for hit on Max Pacioretty in the third period of Thursday's Ducks-Canadiens game? It was a late hit right between the numbers and into the boards. There should at least be a supplemental hearing, no?
After an internal review of Clayton Stoner’s hit on Max Pacioretty, the Player Safety Committee announced this morning that no subsequent action will be taken against the Ducks player. Even though there appeared to be no malice on the part of Stoner, it is my opinion that a formal hearing should have been convened based on the illegal cross-check which caused Pacioretty to launch face-first into the glass and resulted in injury. At the very least, Stoner should have been be fined for the careless act that warranted a cross-checking major and game misconduct in the game.
It has been reported that the hit was only marginally late (0.4 seconds) after Pacioretty released the puck and he appeared to be unsuspecting of the impending hit (although, he perhaps should have been). Even though Pacioretty was almost shoulder-square to the boards (with just a slight body rotation) with his chest facing back toward the blue line, the five-foot distance from the side boards placed the Habs player in a vulnerable position. Taking a forceful check in this position could result in dangerous side head/neck contact with the boards or glass. Facing the glass from this distance is, perhaps, a better option and might allow for the player to raise his hands and defend against some of the impact. This could, in part, explain Pacioretty’s body rotation toward the boards, combined with the directional driving force exerted by Stoner. Pacioretty’s body rotation toward the glass is a possible reason that the PSC determined no disciplinary action was warranted on the play. On the other hand, maybe they didn’t think it was that serious an offence?
What troubles me most about this illegal hit was the fact that Stoner initiated contact with his stick in a prone cross-check position and fully extended his arms. Stoner’s cross-check shove remained connected to Pacioretty’s back right through and including the point when the Montreal player’s face contacted the glass. This action created significant velocity with which Pacioretty was launched into the side boards in a spine-bending crash.
As you mentioned, Jason, there was no penalty assessed on the play. The neutral-zone referee can be seen crossing the ice to assume a position away from the puck that had exited the zone. As such, this ref was not focused on the illegal finishing hit delivered by Stoner down the wall. I am uncertain what the end-zone referee was focused on, but my guess is that it was most likely the puck moving toward the blue line, meaning that he was also unaware of the impending hit on Pacioretty. As I stated, a cross-checking major and game misconduct was warranted as a result of the severity of the contact and resulting injury that Pacioretty sustained.
I believe Clayton Stoner was sincere, and perhaps even contrite, when he made the following post-game comment to the media: “I didn’t mean to hurt him, but the game’s fast and sometimes guys go into the boards wrong, so I hope he’s all right and I didn’t mean any intentions to hurt him.”
While Stoner clearly demonstrated concern for the health and well-being of his injured opponent, actions generally speak louder than words. Actions are what players are judged on.