In honor of NaBloPoMO, I'll be attempting to post something every day in November. If you're not checking in every day, make sure you're catching all the posts! If I may be serious for a moment...
As soon as I saw this video this morning, I knew I was going to be reading the words "I was just finishing my check." (The best slow-mo replay is at the very end of the clip.) Sure enough, Scott Hartnell had this to say about the incident:
Lupul chipped the puck to that D-man and he went down low to block the puck. I thought it was going to get by him. I let up a bit and finished my check. I think he put himself in a vulnerable position. I definitely didn't intend to injure him.
He was in a vulnerable position, eh? I have a suggestion then, Scott: Don't hit the guy! Are you kidding me with that? Alberts was on his knees! Was that a dumb thing to do? Yeah, maybe. But he was in that position before you arrived on the scene. Where exactly was he going to go that required you hitting him instead of pulling up or peeling off or God forbid, playing the PUCK? I'm so tired of hearing players blame other players for their stupidity and I'm so tired of them acting like it's just a part of hockey.
The slow motion replay of this hit turns my stomach. There's so much that could have gone wrong here, so many crucial body parts in play - his skull, his brain, his neck, his upper spine. For a guy to recognize that the opponent is vulnerable and to choose to hit him anyway, especially in a situation where it absolutely wasn't necessary? I don't even know what to say to that other then maybe, "Geez, show a little respect, you freakin' idiot."
Hockey is a tough game, I get that. I don't want to take the physicality out of the game. One of my favorite things about the sport is how it can move so quickly between brute force and amazing grace, how it can be both powerful and delicate. Sometimes things are going to go wrong and people are going to get hurt. Brian Campbell's hit on RJ Umberger and Peter Schaeffer's hit on Tim Connolly (sorry, can't find a video) both come to mind. Players were moving toward each other, going after pucks and they collided in dangerous ways. It happens. But this is totally different. If Tim Connolly's career is ended by an aggressive hockey hit in the middle of a tough play, well so be it. That's a risk of playing hockey, especially with his history of concussions. But if his - or anyone's - career is ended by an asshole incapable of appreciating that he holds the physical well-being of the other players on the ice in his hands, that'll be a damn shame.
I fear the day is coming for someone and coming soon.