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Hi Kerry, sorry for the long message.
I'm sure you're going to receive emails about the Adam McQuaid hit on Nick Foligno. I understand that you're a former referee and not league disciplinarian but I was wondering how you see this situation, especially after hearing some of the analysts give their opinion.
I do not believe that an injury or lack of injury should have impact on whether or not 1. There is a penalty and 2. There is a suspension. I do, however, believe that an injury should have an impact on whether additional discipline is handed out to the player (via major and misconduct penalties and / or suspensions). As an official, wouldn't this create a more black and white approach which would provide some consistency throughout the league?
In this specific play, McQuaid clearly stuck out his leg to stop Foligno. Regardless of whether or not Foligno was injured, this is considered an illegal hit, just as a hit from behind is an illegal check. Do you think the correct call was made? Would the call be different had there not been an injury on the play?
Do you believe that a suspension should occur?
Thanks for your insight, love the column.
Alain: I watched this clip one time in real time and cringed at the location of the contact to Nick Foligno's leg. My immediate reaction to this dangerous play (video link) by Adam McQuaid on Foligno was a major penalty for kneeing plus a game misconduct should be assessed. Both referees had their arm raised on the infraction and the penalty assessment was right on target as I just stated.
I blew my left knee out when I was 16 years old through a dirty hit. I finished playing junior hockey and officiated my entire career without an ACL in my left knee. Five surgeries on that knee and three on the right one has created a bone on bone situation in both knee joints that causes pain on a daily basis. I am extremely sensitive to leg-on-leg and knee hits. As such, I was quick to penalize this type of illegal play.
Bryan Marchment was the one player that I saw utilizing this illegal and dangerous form of contact on a frequent basis throughout my 30 year NHL career. Mush's knee-checking tactic was a primary reason the rule was changed to allow the referee the option of assessing a major and game misconduct penalty beyond just deeming it a minor infraction.
A major penalty is assessed based on 'severity' of the act and is not linked to injury that might result to the player struck. When a major is assessed under this rule it is accompanied with an automatic game misconduct.
Once a player commits himself to attack the puck carrier on an attempted north-south hit (especially where there is significant separation) the potential is ever present to extend a leg in an effort to compensate for lost position once a lateral shift has been made by the puck carrier.
Without question, the severity of Adam McQuaid's use of his knee, including length of extension and location of contact constituted a major penalty. Let's tackle your question on suspensions.
I do not believe that the presence of injury should be the primary factor to determine if a suspension is warranted. Each illegal act that falls into the dangerous category should be ruled upon based on its own merit and judged for the "potential injury" that a player knowingly could expect to result. The threat of suspension for committing a dangerous act creates a deterrent beyond the just the end result when injury is present.
Kevin Porter of Colorado Avalanche received a major and game misconduct in a game for kneeing David Booth of the Canucks and was ultimately suspended for four games. In Brendan Shanahan's post decision remarks to suspend Porter reference was made to not only the distance travelled with his knee extended but the significant injury that resulted to Booth (out of action for up to six weeks).
I get that the fact that a resulting injury will and should up the ante to punish dangerous hits. Suspensions act as a primary deterrent and to educate players from committing these types of illegal acts in the future.
The poor and deliberate decision made by Adam McQuaid to extend his knee and leg in a similar fashion as Kevin Porter did created the potential for injury to Foligno no different than the ultimate injury that David Booth suffered.
It was more good luck than anything that Foligno wasn't injured. Had Foligno been injured, I suspect that a similar suspension would likely result to McQuaid.
If Adam McQuaid had stuck out his elbow instead of his leg, recent suspension history would dictate that a three game suspension would most likely be imposed.
Ruling purely on the extent of the kneeing act (like the one committed by Adam McQuaid), with the absence of injury, I believe any player guilt of this should be suspended for a minimum of one game and a maximum of three (Three would make it consistent with dangerous hits ruled upon recently where no injury resulted).
It's the best way to hold players accountable, to educate them in making the correct decisions and hopefully prevent future injuries like the one suffered by David Booth.
My knees hurt just thinking about it!