Thursday, March 20, 2008

Foster's big fall

Yet another incident that screams for the league to introduce no-touch icing:
Wild defenseman Kurtis Foster was scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery at a San Jose hospital late Wednesday night after breaking his left leg during the second period of the Wild's 4-3 shootout loss to the Sharks.

Foster suffered a displaced fracture in his left femur and was going to have a steel rod inserted to stabilize the leg, director of hockey operations Chris Snow said.
Greg Wyshynski has a detailed look at the play, which includes video footage. One would think the league looks into a suspension for the Sharks rookie Torrey Mitchell, who needlessly shoves the Wild defenceman here.

Foster's essentially Minnesota's fifth defenceman, but this is still a pretty major loss for a team battling for the Northwest Division lead. He picks up just more than two and a half minutes on the power play a game.



At 1:17 p.m., March 20, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, that was HORRIBLE. He is lucky to have only broken his leg. Paralysis could have been the result. That said, a broken femur is a potentially career-ender.
The NHL is so archaic in their thinking. How many times in a game are icings actually negated by a player winning the race to a puck? Change the rule, and protect your players.

At 1:50 p.m., March 20, 2008, Blogger Chris said... is a contact sport and injuries do happy. I'm sick of people complaining that something needs to be changed EVERY time someone gets hurt. This ISN'T a news story.

At 1:58 p.m., March 20, 2008, Blogger Wyshynski said...

Chris -

Like I said in the FanHouse piece, it is a story when a League/PA that is so over-the-top safety-conscious that we can't even get helmet-less shootouts allows a rule to stand that clearly leads to horrendous moments like last night. Meet it in the middle -- keep the speed races, but ban physical contact on icing chases.

At 2:30 p.m., March 20, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not get rid of the need to actually touch the puck and just make it the player over the goal line first? This would still allow a player to hustle to negate an icing, but not leave the defensemen prone.

At 2:53 p.m., March 20, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice idea, but I doubt it would work. There is no point in racing to wipe out an icing, unless you gain possession of the puck at the same time.

At 3:06 p.m., March 20, 2008, Blogger Aaron said...

I'm not sure there's a need for a suspension here. I As watching last night and it seemed like an unfortunate but uninintentional play by Mitchell, who looked absolutely sick after it happened. I would have been fine with more than a 2 minute minor penalty though. Mitchell did give him a little push but if Foster hadn't lsot his edge the push would have sent him into the boards rather than down to the ice. Really just unfortunate for the Wild and especially for Foster because this injury will be difficult to come back from. Even if he is 100% physically healthy you have to wonder how he will react when put in a similar situation again. In physical sports like football and hockey there's no room for hesitation. When players start hesitating that's when the really bad injuries happen.

If there is a suspension, based on the Pronger precedent, I can't see this being more than 1 game. I don't see any intent to injure and there was no use of eqipment as weaponry. Which I guess is a long way of saying the league will probably suspend him 10-15 games.

At 3:28 p.m., March 20, 2008, Blogger camcanuck said...

I fail to see why 'no touch' icing is any different then the 'Fair catch' / 'No Yards' rules in football. The fair catch rule is there to prevent a player from being exposed to situation that could result in a significant injury. That is exactly what no touch icing would do. Sure 1 time out of 100 (I'm pulling numbers out of the sky here) there might be an exciting play on a potential icing call, but on those other 99 times we're just wasting time.

At 3:42 p.m., March 20, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if anyone has actual numbers on this?

How many times the puck is iced, total and per game.

How many times the possession doesn't change from what would be expected if no-touch rules applied, total and per game.

How many of the times the possession changes there is actually a scoring chance resulting from the change (since that is the point, not just to hang on to the puck a few more seconds).

And how many injuries, serious and minor, result from racing to touch up an icing, as well as how many injuries result from other action along the boards (to see how much of the pain is a result specifically of icing).

My guess, based on remembering observations, is that possession rarely changes, seldom results in a scoring chance since usually the puck is tied up along the boards because the other player is right there anyway, and even less seldom results in a serious injury - but considering the negligible benefit and the seriousness of the injuries that result, it would make sense to just institute no-touch icing and stop wasting energy agonizing over it and move on to more important topics.

At 5:03 p.m., March 20, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure the league will even look into a suspension. I'm not going to comment on whether Mitchell deserves one or not. Just want to point out that if you look back, the NHL has not only kept no-touch icing off the books, but they've also failed to punish players for this exact same play time and again.

Look at Adam Foote, used his stick to kick Marco Sturm's skate out from under him on an icing call a few years back. Sturm broke his foot and dislocated his ankle going into the boards on what was clearly an intentional cheap shot by Foote. The league didn't even look at it...

At 6:28 p.m., March 20, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No touch icing.

The 3rd icing in a period is a 2 minute minor for delay of game.

Problem solved.

At 6:34 p.m., March 20, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To quote Mirtle circa 2007 on Pat Peake:

A superstar in junior hockey — he was named the Canadian Hockey League player of the year in 1993 — Peake was chasing down a puck, trying to beat an icing call during the 1996 playoffs when he tripped and collided feet first with the end boards, shattering his right heel. Doctors claimed they had seen an injury of similar severity only in construction workers who had fallen from high rises.

Peake would attempt numerous comebacks over the next two seasons, playing in a total of eight professional games while battling continued pain in his rebuilt heel. In his final game, the only one he would play in the 1997-98 season, he tore several tendons in his ankle in that same troubled foot.

He retired from hockey the following fall at age 25, and altogether has had more than 10 operations on his heel.

Yes, hockey is a physical game, but this seems to be an unneccessary rule that bring about more injuries than scoring chances. I didn't care one way or another about this rule before seeing a game played in Europe. Automatic icing seems to cause less icings and keep the puck moving, and automatic icing doesn't take any excitement out of the game in any way. (these suggestions are not backed with actual stats, just my own interpretive observation).

At 6:45 p.m., March 20, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leaf players are torn; they seem to love the touch up rule (particularly two Swedes), but wince when something like Foster happens. When faced with injuries over tradition, Steffan Kronwall seems to think that it's a "tough call".

Of course 3 players from the Leafs dressing room don't represent the NHLPA, but if this is the consensus on the way NHL players are thinking, I don't see the rule changing any time soon.

At 11:26 p.m., March 20, 2008, Blogger Unknown said...

That this is even a serious question baffles me. I watch a league (NCAA) with no touch icing more than I watch the NHL, and you lose absolutely nothing by going that way.

At 12:40 a.m., March 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't leave a decision such as this to the Grade 9 dropouts who work the trade. If we left everything to them, there'd be no helmets, punishment for infractions would be restricted to retributive assault, and we'd probably still have the rover.

At some point, somebody paying the bills for these players and their health care needs to step up and spearhead a movement to make the game safe.

Because if you get your jollies from seeing two guys hammering on each other on an icing, I hear they're reviving roller derby.

At 3:42 a.m., March 21, 2008, Blogger PJ Swenson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3:53 a.m., March 21, 2008, Blogger PJ Swenson said...

I was at the corner where he crashed into the boards. A while back there was an ECHL player who crashed directly into the board I was at and hurt his knee.

This collision with the boards was louder and more violent, and it was farther away. It happened so quick that it was hard to see what was going on, but you could tell from the speed, and from the fact that he did not slow down that it was going to be bad.

Just wanted to throw my two cents in on rookie center Torrey Mitchell. I tried reviewing the play in the press box, but me and the guy next to me did not have the best angle. Mitchell plays hard, I would describe him as a tenacious defender, but not by any means a dirty one. And the players that gathered around Foster from both teams, and the players in the Sharks locker room after the game, were genuinely remorseful.

Later in the game rookie right wing Devin Setoguchi was checked into the boards, and he had to be helped off of the ice. In the first period, Jody Shelley had to leave the ice after a brutal heavyweight fight with Derek Boogard. Todd Fedoruk also was throwing his body around in the second and third. Gaborik also tried to check Douglas Murray, and was flattened in the process. The 240 pound Murray also sent someone cartwheeling with a huge check in the third. It was a very physical game.

I would say this is a borderline situation as to whether or not a ban was in order. Consider the character of the player, consider the situation in the game, and I think you have to take into consideration the actions of the player and the team after the game. Given that, I would say no suspension.

At 3:56 a.m., March 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1 out of 100? Nice try using totally skewed numbers. In games I watch, at least one icing if not two per game are negated by a player beating a defender back to the puck. No chance there's 100 icings per game...

I don't like the idea of no-touch icing. If a team has speedy players, they should have the chance to use it.

That said, I hear there's a hybrid no-touch rule currently being tested in the USJHL (or is it USHL). Reportedly (TSN) it's something Ken Holland would like to check into further. Anyway, it puts things at the discretion of the linesman. If two players are in a dead heat (or similar) at the hash marks, the whistle is blown for icing. Every other play is left to the players to race to the puck.

That avoids needless collisions, or at least minimizes them, while still allowing a speed based team / line to negate an icing here or there.

No-touch is boring. I've seen it at the Olympics and in international tournaments. Situations where the forward would clearly be the first to the puck, but since it crossed the goal line...tweet.

At the same time, needless and dangerous collisions are awful.

Consequently, I think the hybrid rule makes sense.

At 2:07 p.m., March 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't like the idea of no-touch icing. If a team has speedy players, they should have the chance to use it.

If they're so speedy, why can't they catch up to the puck before it crosses the red line? Make THAT the race.

I disagree with you that no-touch icing is boring, but that's just my of opinion. Most of the time, the offensive player doesn't reach the puck anyway, so the whistle goes stopping the play - which I assume is what bores you.

But think about this - if the whistle is blown right away, the team who iced the puck doesn't get to change and doesn't get the time it would have taken you to touch it to rest. That's a whole different kind of scoring opportunity. Also, blowing the whistle right away could mean the difference in a one goal game with 17 seconds left vs. 7 seconds. Another exciting opportunity we're robbed of.

I believe, but dont' have proof, that teams who regularly use the no-touch icing (not just Olympics and International games) have adjusted their game in order to ice the puck less and keep the play going. Isn't that also more exciting? If icing is going to happen, let it happen. But wouldn't you rather save those few precious seconds it takes to touch up the puck in a game in which time is precious?

btw, btw, NHL will not suspend Sharks' Mitchell

At 3:10 p.m., March 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Icing should be automatic if the puck is shot from behind your own blue line just because it is idiotic to wait for the puck to go the length of the ice waiting for the whistle to blow.

At 3:11 p.m., March 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In repsone to negating the icing without getting possession. If you arrive at virtually the same time it is rare anyone actually gets possession. There is usually a scrum that ensues and what you are gaining is position on the ice and the ability to change lines. Otherwise you have a faceoff in your zone with players that can't be replaced.

At 3:41 p.m., March 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I didn't understand was why Boogaard didn't fight Mitchell later in the game. Would have thought that would have been natural.

At 5:05 p.m., March 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What I didn't understand was why Boogaard didn't fight Mitchell later in the game."

Uh...because Mitchell is a 5'11" 190lb. kid who never ever fights, and Boogaard is a 6'7" 260lb. face-destroying monster. There's no way those two would drop the gloves against each other, ever.


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