The NHL has apparently decided that Ben Eager’s cheap, late hit to Rick Rypien’s head was a clean and legal one. Because Rypien wasn’t injured.
I’d point out this fail, except Colin Campbell has been so horribly and maddeningly inconsistent that I’m just not surprised anymore. It’s no wonder that head shots are a regular occurence these days – heck, Mike Brown took a late run at Jiri Hudler last night too – if players know they’re going to get away with it.
In Eager’s case, Campbell’s decision has set a bad precedent. Eager has been told that the hit was okay, and now, he’s gone as far admitting he’ll do it again if given the opportunity:
“It seems every time there’s a big hit everyone is thinking suspension,” Eager said today after the Blackhawks practised at GM Place. ” You know, it’s playoff hockey, there’s going to be hits, you’ve got to keep your head up out there.
“I was just backchecking, and I’m not going to turn off a hit like that. And we had two good refs out there and they both saw it and there was no major penalty or anything. If there’s a hit like that I’m going to take it again.”
Way to go, NHL. I just hope the next time Eager nails someone in the head, that he gets up fine like Rypien did.
Now, instead of letting Ben the Bully get to their heads, the Canucks need to focus on their own game plan. Their game 1 was far from perfect and there’s no sense on wasting any more energy on a pansy who’ll never drop the gloves against anyone his own size.
In the St. Louis series, the Canucks responded to goonery by scoring on the powerplay, which was a solid 4-for-18 (22.2%) against the Blues. While Eager wasn’t subsequently suspended, he did receive a *ahem* minor penalty on the hit. However, the Canucks didn’t score on the ensuing powerplay, and in fact, they only scored on 1 of their 7 opportunities in game 1. If the powerplay is more successful, maybe the Blackhawks will take less liberties. If the NHL won’t do anything to deter these cheap hits from happening, maybe the powerplay will.