Friday, December 28, 2007

Orr's big hit


I'm a day late posting this, as I was paying Air Canada to misplace my luggage, but Colton Orr's big hit has set off quite a debate in the past 24 hours.

A look at some of Thursday's reaction:

Remove the personalities (Orr and Cullen) from this equation and just consider the act of hitting someone high. A legal high hit puts a skater’s head in danger from the initial blow and from whatever might occur when his head, neck or face strikes the ice. And that’s too high a cost for me.
"It's certainly a reminder about what's happened to our team this year, where the other teams are taking pretty good shots at our players. Last night was a reminder of that. There's been guys come available that are tough guys, but probably not at the level we're looking for, so we're still going to look for one of those top guys."
... let’s not get all bent out of shape thinking that Colton Orr was some innocent bystander. His hands were up, and his helmet collided with Cullen’s. If you want to take issue with how the penalty assessment was handled, have at it.But it’s not like it came out of thin air either.
But in this case, Cullen had the puck, which makes him a legitimate target to be hit, so the details of how Orr hit him become relevant. The fact that Cullen was hurt (he landed on his face on the ice, has a broken nose and possibly a concussion) clearly influenced the call. The refs also have to make these decisions with no benefit of multiple replays.
Me? I don't like the hit, but you can certainly understand why there's all the confusion (the referees included) given the fine line involved here. The act looks ugly and unnecessary, and the result even more so, but is it technically a legal hit?

Should it be?

Carolina, meanwhile, is starting to run into some injury troubles up front, as Cullen joins Justin Williams and Chad LaRose on the injured reserve for a spell. The Hurricanes' division lead is down to a measly two points after the Panthers won over Atlanta tonight.

Time to get a goon.

Labels: ,

41 Comments:

At 6:58 AM, December 28, 2007, Blogger mike said...

Orr definitely took a run at Cullen. The penalty of interference may have been technically wrong, but it was right in spirit. At the very least Orr should've gotten two for charging--but that wouldn't have taken into account the viciousness of the hit.

Hits like this should equate to game misconducts--since they are legal as far as the definition of bodychecks go, they can't be eliminated from the game, and Orr was sliding over to defend against Cullen's drive across the Rangers' blue line. I do think that the result of unnecessarily hard and high hits should be considered by referees when evaluating what penalty type to assess. But then I always thought Scott Stevens was a headhunting criminal too.

 
At 7:38 AM, December 28, 2007, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) We would have accepted an elbowing call, but even that was borderline. Interference it was not!
2) Look at old replays of Scott Steven's hits over the years. They too were 'borderline', bone crunching and sometimes resulted in injury(ask Lindros), yet we don't recall such out rage, etc
3) Keeping one's head up has been a mantra forever. Cullen wasn't looking and got nailed. Don't like to see injuries, but don't want to see hitting curtailed because of this either!

 
At 7:50 AM, December 28, 2007, Blogger Sig said...

Put Phaneuf on the back of that jersey and we're all talking about "another highlight reel hit" the day after. But because it's Orr, we get crap like "he took a run at Cullen" and "it was unnecessary." EVERY big hit is unnecessary. But the last time I checked, the NHL PROMOTES hitting, even Gary Bettman has said that. If you want a real story about a real cheap shot, look no further then Maxim Afinegenov slew footing Scottie Upshall and attempting to step on him. Where has that story been? I have a vid on my blog. Boy how these things get lost in the mix of a devastating, clean hit. By the way, this hit wasn't much different then the hit Burns put on Prucha two weeks ago. Both had their elbows low and both level the opposing player. Burns gets nothing; Orr gets the gate for quite possibly the lamest call in the history of hockey.

 
At 8:21 AM, December 28, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the person above the name on the jersey made the call not the actual hit. Yes, the refs have a tough job and they don't have replay. But, to pull calls out of thin air is ridiculous. I believe Orr was going for the hit but, not a dirty one. Last second he realizes that Cullen is not paying attention tries to ease up and BAM! collision that looks real bad happens. They smacked helmets and faces! What is disgusting is that even some very good NY beat writers called it a hit and did not take time to look at what it was before they printed their stories!

 
At 8:45 AM, December 28, 2007, Blogger Matt said...

@ Sig: Oh wow, another blogger on a crusade over Afinogenov's "slewfoot" incident. Give me a break. As for the "kicking" motion, Upshall had a hold of his skate and Afinogenov was trying to break free.

Personally, I think the NFL quarterback standard should be in play here - any blow to the head is illegal. Under the current rules, is what Orr did legal? I believe so, but it doesn't make it necessary.

 
At 9:17 AM, December 28, 2007, Anonymous BDH said...

Last night in my men's league a guy on the other team took a penalty, and when the whistle blew he circled around real quick to argue the call and ran into me. I raised my arms in self-defense and got a 2 minute roughing call. I'm still pissed about it.

Oh and, sadly, I think that hit might've been legal.

I agree with Matt - and not just because he appears to be a Syracuse fan - that the QB rule would be a smart one to consider...

 
At 9:24 AM, December 28, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

Funny, Air Canada lost my luggage yesterday too.

1158, Calgary to Toronto.

Oh, and I don't have a problem with that hit.

 
At 10:28 AM, December 28, 2007, Blogger McLea said...

"Orr definitely took a run at Cullen."

"At the very least Orr should've gotten two for charging"

I love how all the loony tunes come out of their caves whenever there's a potentially dirty hit. Took a run? Charging? If you actually watched the video, you would see that Orr took his last stride 3 feet before he hit the blue line. How in God's name that could be considered "taking a run" or charging is totally beyond me. Orr caught him in the middle of the ice after gliding around for five seconds, and unfortunately Cullen didn't see him. When you play a physical game, this kind of stuff is going to happen. But far be it for me to get in the way of Art and his disciples crusade to destroy the game of hockey by turning it into ringette.

 
At 10:55 AM, December 28, 2007, Anonymous Keith said...

Orr caught a very stupid player cutting across the ice with his head down. Even so, he tried to make sure he hit Cullen in the shoulder rather than the forehead.

Blame Cullen for this one entirely. That was a perfectly clean check that should not have been a penalty. But, much like in Junior A, where the interference major has been around for some time, that penalty is nothing more than a referee saying "OMG, I wasn't paying attention, but someone got hurt. I gotta call something."

Quite frankly, the NHL needs to rescind the game misconduct.

 
At 11:36 AM, December 28, 2007, Blogger poploser said...

I hope you were being silly, because "time to get a goon" is the worst possible response here.

What would a goon do? It wouldnt prevent hits like this...which I happen to believe was a "legal" hit, if not a "clean" hit - big difference unfortunately.

Would the goon be used to retaliate? Against who? the other "goon" who leveled the hit? One of the Rangers "non-goon" players? What if this hit was thrown by a "non-goon" like Alex Ovechkin? Would that change your interpretation?

The fact that this was caused by a fourth-liner known almost exclusively for his fighting is muddying the issue - the issues are:

(1) Was this hit an expected event of today's NHL game? [subissues - player size, equipment, rulebook]

(2) Was this hit a *desired* event in today's NHL? [subissues - NHL marketing, NHLPA protection of player jobs, interests of "purists" in protecting "hitting"]

(3) Do the NHL, and its players, properly protect the players? Should they even have any responsibility to do so?

 
At 11:45 AM, December 28, 2007, Blogger mike said...

McLea--Despite your clever assessment of me as "loony (sic) tunes" and as some sort of cave dweller, I'll remind you that Orr wasn't defending Cullen at the beginning of the play. He left his man at the blue line and charged at Cullen as he cut across the top of the zone. He saw the opportunity for a massive hit and took it--now he should also accept the consequences of such actions.

I say this as a Ranger fan--Orr's hit was a dirty play. But my favorite part of the play was Orr pounding on Mike Commodore, who rushed in to defend Cullen after the hit and did not receive an instigator call as the rules state he should have. Orr was bleeding from his collision w/Cullen and still whaled on Commodore. I guess that by being soundly beaten up by Orr, Mike Commodore will have truly dissuaded Orr from smashing Cullen into unconsciousness the next time he gets the chance to do so.

I mean, that's the favorite refrain of every tough guy fan out there, right?

And McLea--maybe you'll be satisfied when somebody dies out there. Bloodthirsty knuckledraggers like yourself are ruining sports for real fans.

 
At 12:01 PM, December 28, 2007, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

I'll remind you that Orr wasn't defending Cullen at the beginning of the play. He left his man at the blue line and charged at Cullen as he cut across the top of the zone. He saw the opportunity for a massive hit and took it--now he should also accept the consequences of such actions.

So I guess it should be a penalty if Orr switches defensive responsibilities, and then defends.

And McLea--maybe you'll be satisfied when somebody dies out there. Bloodthirsty knuckledraggers like yourself are ruining sports for real fans.

Why is this trump card being thrown? I don't think anybody's calling for death, so could we possibly discuss this without resorting to unnecessary hyperbole? Also, the use of the term "real fans" for any purpose of superiority should probably be restricted to idiot messageboards.

 
At 12:02 PM, December 28, 2007, Anonymous Thoridan said...

James, I'm not sure what you expected Orr to do here. When you see someone coming into your zone and entering the "train tracks", of course you have to check him, whether it's your man or not. Whoever used the excuse that he left his own man to hit him - so what?

And how was this a high hit? Yes, Cullen's head hit Orr's chest (Orr's head hit Cullen's helmet as well) - should we now outlaw hits to the chest and shoulders because the head MIGHT whip forward and impact someone's chest? If Cullen had been looking where he was going, he would have been prepped and in control of his neck/head. I'm just incredulous at how people are blaming Orr for this. Elbow to chin - no! Shoulder to head - no! Cullen had JUST released the puck, he was entering the Ranger zone, and the hit was there.
Since when is a check to the upper chest a penalty?? Head shots should always be called, I agree. This was NOT a headshot. Will we now penalize EVERY play where a hit results in an injury?

What was he supposed to do???

 
At 12:08 PM, December 28, 2007, Blogger mike said...

Earl--the use of the word "charge" was intentional, and indicative of the fact that Orr committed a penalty when he raced across the zone to hit Cullen.

No penalty for switching there. Just for this: CHARGING.

 
At 12:15 PM, December 28, 2007, Blogger McLea said...

I'll remind you that Orr wasn't defending Cullen at the beginning of the play.

Wow.

 
At 12:59 PM, December 28, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this was more a collision than a hit. orr put his arms up to brace himself if anything.
and how gliding into someone in the middle of the rink can be charging if you're allowed to take 5 or 6 strides before plastering someone into the ends boards is beyond me.
the burns hit on prucha was an elbow and against the glass. fortunately pricha got right up. i think he's made of rubber :) seriously, pound for pound he's the toughest player in the league

 
At 1:09 PM, December 28, 2007, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

Earl--the use of the word "charge" was intentional, and indicative of the fact that Orr committed a penalty when he raced across the zone to hit Cullen.

Yeah, it sounds good when you say that he "raced" or "charged", but I don't see it. I'm not a guy who thinks you should call "charging" when you could have also called it "coasting".

 
At 1:18 PM, December 28, 2007, Blogger mike said...

No rules, no laws, let's make hockey a gladatorial contest then. Messrs. Sleek and McLea sure have chastened me.

Have you guys at least heard of Bill Masterton and how his career finished? Just checking.

 
At 1:25 PM, December 28, 2007, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

No rules, no laws, let's make hockey a gladatorial contest then.

Well, I think I'm about done here. I can't really invest in this sort of extremist name-calling today (else I would have gone to HF Boards). Suffice to say I do believe that there should be such a thing as a charging penalty or a high hit penalty; I'd rather utilize them when they are applicable.

But enjoy scaring off folks, Mike. It's been swell.

 
At 1:37 PM, December 28, 2007, Blogger godot10 said...

Orr raised his hands to turn a body check into a head assault. It should have been called roughing instead of interference, but the 5 minute penalty was justified.

Orr, in my opinion, should also get a suspension (a couple of games) since it was a deliberate head assault with his hands, and not just an incidental head hit that was part of a body check. He aimed his hands high instead of just following through on a body check.

 
At 2:18 PM, December 28, 2007, Anonymous Darrell said...

Some of these comments are insane.

First, Orr gives his team an advantage by making this hit. If the other team believes that they can dipsy doodle into the slot with their heads down and not get hit, they will do so more often, and the NYR will concede more goals as a result. Just like Niel's hit on Drury last year, these are players going into PRIME scoring areas without paying attention to where they are going. Cutting across the ice is dangerous. Doing it with your head down is even more so.

Second, I believe the injury on this hit occurred due to the head on head contact. I have never seen an NHL player intentionally initiate head on head contact, and I don't believe Orr did so intentionally here. Sometimes when you hit someone, someone gets hurt, and that is just one of those times.

Third, due to all the wooses running around, the NHL needs to make it a penalty to skate into the slot with the puck and with your head down. If you want to ban hits to the puckcarrier in prime scoring positions, then you got to ban the abuse of that rule by players putting their head down.

 
At 2:43 PM, December 28, 2007, Blogger Julian said...

This is insane. Orr didn't do anything wrong.

I can't believe this discussion is happening on a hockey board amongst hard-core hockey fans. There seems to be a sea change happening in our sport and not for the better.

 
At 3:59 PM, December 28, 2007, Anonymous BDH said...

I do agree that it's time to get the Wooses out of the game:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Narnian_creatures>

Still waiting for some discussion of that phantom roughing call on me. I didn't even have time to get my hands much further above my waist before the guy colided with me, how the F can that be roughing?

 
At 4:45 PM, December 28, 2007, Blogger Scotty Hockey said...

I have to agree with a lot of the earlier comments (i.e. if it was Dion, not only would it not be a penalty, it would be in the NHL's commercial for the upcoming All Star Game). It was a legal hit but the refs got nervous because Matt Cullen did his best Eric Lindros impression and they felt they had to call something.

The two issues that I will take up were mentioned in side notes from the other guys: 1 - Commodore went to stand up for his guy, which I applaud as spectacular for team spirit, but he did not get an instigator penalty. As I mentioned in my game-wrap blog, doing that is the definition of instigator. But I guess the two refs were too busy coming up with five minutes for interference to pay attention to what was happening. And 2 - I am disappointed in Mirtle. Its one thing for Rutherford to say his team needs to get tougher but I thought Mirtle would see that having a goon wouldn't have changed anything. Having Andrew Peters didn't stop Chris Drury from getting railroaded last year against Ottawa. He helped dish out the retribution but that didn't change the fact that Drury's bell was rung. I love fighting in hockey, but let's be serious, these three-minute-a-game goons would be better replaced with offense-only power play/shootout specialists.

 
At 4:55 PM, December 28, 2007, Blogger mike said...

Orr plays more than 3 minutes a game for the Rangers, contributing nightly on their solid fourth line. He's actually a pretty clean player for a tough guy; that's why I was kind of shocked at the viciousness of the hit on Cullen. Having seen almost every game of Orr's career either on TV or live, this hit on Matt Cullen seemed out of character for him. Orr usually saves his damage for other tough guys.

Hits like this deserve a short suspension. This one isn't Downie level (few are) but one or two games is fair. It really looked to me like Orr went well out of his way to destroy Cullen with this hit. Taking the body is one thing, injuring another player is quite another.

Lastly, I still feel knockout shots to the head are wrong for a physical sport with an 82-game season. Players should keep hits below the shoulders, it ain't that hard to do.....

 
At 5:05 PM, December 28, 2007, Anonymous baroque said...

I don't think James was suggesting himself that what Carolina needs is a goon - I interpret his comment as merely an observation of what is likely to happen, based on how other teams have tried to increase their toughness by looking for an enforcer as a (supposed) deterrent.

 
At 5:18 PM, December 28, 2007, Blogger Adam C said...

Wow.

I hate it - hate it - when people's response is to blame the victim for not keeping his head up.

But now it's all I can say.

It was not charging. He'd long since taken his last stride and had executed a 90 degree turn.

It was not cross-checking - or even a hit directly to the head. It was an upper body hit, with arms raised - but that's how it's supposed to be done. If you hit the lower body, you get accused of going for a guy's knees.

When a guy with the puck comes skating through the slot, hitting him is "necessary". It's how you relieve him of the puck. It's the most reliable and effective choice.

Cullen ran headlong into a player who was bigger, stronger, heavier, and braced for impact. Unless we want to outlaw size, I think we can write this down as an unfortunate consequence of playing a high-speed, full-contact sport.

Also: many thanks to Mike Commodore for demonstrating the pointlessness of getting rid of the instigator penalty.

 
At 5:19 PM, December 28, 2007, Blogger MikeP said...

The game misconduct was likely as much to protect Orr as it was to punish him. Some cane was almost sure to try to take his head off for that - get him off the ice, since the judgement of Rangers coaches is clearly not great. (Hey, let's play Hollweg against Simon! What can possibly go wrong?)

The hit is borderline to me, mostly because of Orr's hands being up, but I agree that the penalty was as much called on the name on the jersey as anything else.

 
At 6:34 PM, December 28, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Guys, I'm being facetious about the 'get a goon' comment. Rutherford has already told the media that's what he intends to do as a result of this game.

 
At 9:05 PM, December 28, 2007, Anonymous Matt R said...

What percentage of the time do puck carriers in the NHL have their heads down? Are there some areas of the ice where you are expected to have your head up (say coming out of your own zone) and others where you are expected to be looking at the puck (and therefore off limits)? I think I see NHLers with their heads down often when they handle the puck. Is "keeping your head up" a discipline that's been lost over the years?

 
At 9:40 PM, December 28, 2007, Anonymous K24 said...

MikeP:
Why should the Rangers coaches have had to be the ones to change their game plan for Simon? Simon is the one who was the "criminal," so to speak, so he and his coaches should have been the ones trying to make sure he stays out of trouble.

 
At 12:40 AM, December 29, 2007, Anonymous Darrell said...

MattR:

All players do indeed look at the puck. The problem is when players are looking down at the puck for long periods of time, especially in danger areas. Cullen skates from one side of the ice into the middle with his head down the entire time, and you simply can't do that. If he even glanced up briefly at any point on his cut across the ice, he can avoid or brace himself for that hit.

Think of it like driving a car. It's important to look in your rear view mirror (the puck), but you can't drive while ONLY looking in your rear view mirror.

 
At 1:20 AM, December 29, 2007, Blogger d-lee said...

James,
JR didn't say that he wants to get a goon. He said that he wants to get an enforcer, but was careful to add that he wants someone with some level of skill. Carolina is hurting enough as it is, and wasting a roster spot on someone whose sole purpose is fighting would be stupid.
Even as a Carolina fan, I didn't see a whole lot wrong with Orr's hit.
I did, however, see a lot wrong with Avery's cheap shots on Ladd. Also with the officials making the terrible hand pass call against Carolina in their own zone. Last time I checked, you can do that in your own zone. The ensuing Carolina zone faceoff led directly to the go-ahead goal. I have problems with those things, but not with the Orr hit. It sucks, but I'm not hatin' on Orr.

 
At 3:06 AM, December 29, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

The 'Canes recalled Wade Brookbank. Enforcer problem solved.

 
At 3:43 PM, December 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where do you guys get this "head on head" contact. Orr put his arms up and hit Cullen right in the kisser with his forearms. Cullen would probably have been injured by the play even if Orr kept his arms down, but it sure looked like head-hunting to me. The league mouths all this crap about cracking down on head shots and does jack to Orr. Deserved 5 games if they're really serious about taking the head shots out of the game.

And defending it as a clean hit is unmitigated garbage!

 
At 4:30 PM, December 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

mike, brain-dead, knee-jerk reactions like yours are the bane of good authority everywhere.

There was nothing wrong with the hit, but because a guy got hurt, you go screaming high and low about guys taking runs, or about vicious play, blah blah. I'm not interested in typing out all the hyperbole you employed, the tool of the extreme-wing activist. You don't know what you're talking about.

If Cullen doesn't go down like a sack of potatoes, this isn't even called. But wouldn't the hit still be "illegal" in your eyes? Probably not, because you only notice when events like this make headlines anyway, and you want massive changes to suit your personal agenda.

It was just a routine hockey hit that got Cullen on the sweet spot. The refs shouldn't have even called a penalty on the play, but they panicked because they saw a guy on the ice.

A play isn't vicious, illegal, or anything else just because a guy gets hurt. This is a contact sport - sometimes injuries are what happens. If you can't accept that, don't watch. Orr deserves a suspension according to you, merely for playing the game - ha, ha. You are the easily the most foolish commentator on this entire thread.

If you are unable to recognize the truth of what happened, you are unqualified to comment on it, end of story. And I'm guessing you're not even a real fan of the game, just another nutbar looking for any excuse to decry the game.

Go play with your dolls.

 
At 4:32 PM, December 29, 2007, Anonymous K24 said...

Anon.,
Orr hit Cullen in at the shoulders with his forearms. Head hit head--Orr got cut on his face from Cullen's helmet.

The league apparently agrees with those of us saying this "garbage" because they rescinded Orr's penalty and game misconduct.

 
At 6:01 PM, December 29, 2007, Blogger mike said...

Again, I'm a Ranger fan who has seen nearly every game of Orr's career for the team. I like Orr's game and consider him a worthy successor to Rangers like Nick Fotiu and Darren Langdon. What he did to Cullen was over the line and out of character for him. Players should be hitting each other, I have never said that they shouldn't--but I am tired of seeing guys knocked out cold because of hits to the head. There should be some respect amongst players for each other as human beings. That does not reflect any sort of agenda for eliminating checking from hockey.

I don't decry every late hit like some do...what I condemn is gratuitous use of on-ice violence, and this seemed to me to be another one of those cases where a hit could have been delivered that did not require X-rays.

Despite the amount of spleen that has been vented on this issue I still think hockey would be just as great without hits to the head. But I only played the game for eight years (and broke someone's nose with a high hit myself once), and have watched it for another 30...so I guess that does make me unqualified to comment on hockey.

 
At 9:06 PM, December 29, 2007, Anonymous Thoridan said...

Orr's 5-minute major and game misconduct have been rescinded by the NHL.

Hopefully they gave them to the refs...

 
At 5:09 AM, December 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before the Christmas break the Canucks and Avalanche were playing at the Pepsi Centre. Ryan Kesler was carrying the puck along the boards in the neutral zone with his head down and Cody McCormick rocked him with a hard check. Kesler got up and finished the game but sat out against Calgary with concussion like symptoms. Now these are the teams with history, the Moore hit on Naslund when he wasn't carrying the puck and Bertuzzi's revenge attack on Moore. As a Canucks fan I saw nothing wrong with the McCormick hit under NHL rules, the same with the Orr hit on Cullen. Orr getting his padded gloves up at the last minute wasn't enough to knock Cullen unconcious. It's the shoulder pads and how much they have changed over the years that cause the concussions on a bodycheck. The same bodycheck delivered by Bob Probert 20 years ago wouldn't have resulted in a concussion. Shoulder pads now are completely covered with a hard shell. So maybe the NHL rules committee may want to change the rules to take away bodychecks when a player has his head down but in a game where the players skate at speeds up to 30 MPH, how do players judge in a split second if the hit maybe too dangerous? Perhaps looking at less dangerous pads should be looked at first.

Monsieur Parafect
aka Canucks Fanboy

 
At 10:11 AM, December 31, 2007, Anonymous MikeP said...

k24: because it was an exhibition game. We're not talking G7 of the Stanley Cup finals here. You're right, but still - why take the chance?

 

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