If you’ve been off social media for the past couple of hours, you’ve likely missed the news that Alex Edler has been handed a 3 game suspension for the “illegal check to the head” of Tomas Hertl in last night’s game. And I’m likely about to say something that will upset a fair number of you.
I think three games for Edler is reasonable.
While there is considerable debate to the legality of Edler’s hit itself – of note there was no call on the ice at the time – it’s hard to argue with Brendan “Banahammer” Shanahan’s assertion in his discipline video that the main point of impact is Hertl’s head (as you can see from the video below):
So why the suspension on what most are saying was a “legal” hockey hit (man am I overusing quotation marks)? It has everything to do with the first sentence of Rule 48 – Illegal Check to the Head
A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted.
While there are those who say Hertl hit Edler, I think we all agree a collision took place between and Edler’s arm/shoulder/body caught Hertl’s noggin square. Based on that fact alone, Edler violated Rule 48 and probably got off unfairly unscathed during the game.
For those of you who are about to castigate me in a public fashion, you’re not wrong in thinking there was no malice, intent, or recklessness involved – I don’t believe there was. But the language in the rule itself goes on further to accommodate that line of thought:
However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was avoidable, can be considered.
As Shanahan explains in his video, these factors were taken into consideration when doling out supplementary discipline. And I would go as far as to say this whole issue would be moot had Edler made contact with anything other than Hertl’s head.
And lastly, this incident seems far too similar to Edler’s knee-on-knee hit on Eric Staal in last year’s World Cup – another incident where Edler appears slide down the train tracks before contact. With this one, I’ll let you be the judge: