Sunday, November 9, 2008

Kostopoulos needs to take a seat

It appears NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell will be taking a look at Tom Kostopoulos' hit from behind on Mike Van Ryn in Saturday night's 6-3 Habs loss to the Leafs.

I've seen the hit several times now, and I suggest you do the same before getting angry with what I'm about to say, but I feel Kostopoulos needs to be suspended for this:

I can already hear people saying that Van Ryn shouldn't have put himself in that position, that Kostopoulos had no chance to let up, but frankly I'm getting sick of that argument. Kostopoulos takes Van Ryn's head and drives it into the boards while he was completely vulnerable. It was just like Randy Jones did to Patrice Bergeron last year, and the same asinine excuses blaming Bergeron for the injury were made then as well.

It's high time these kinds of dangerous hits be eliminated from hockey. I have no reason to doubt that Kostopoulos didn't intend to hurt Van Ryn, that he was sincerely "just trying to get the puck," as he said after the game.

But you don't suspend players for intent, you suspend them for actions. And the actions of Kostopoulos, and Jones before him, need to be eliminated.

Now, the question is how long? Jones only got two games, seemingly because it was generally accepted that Bergeron deserved some degree of the blame for his own injury by turning his back on an oncoming defender. Did Van Ryn not do the same thing? Does that make the hit any less dangerous? Is Kostopoulos not the one ultimately responsible for giving Van Ryn a concussion, broken nose and broken finger?

I think five games would be a fair number that will make forecheckers and defencemen think twice before running at a guy along the boards while he's looking for the puck. I understand you're supposed to play the body first, and that should always be a fundamental philosophy of hockey, but there are times when you can choose to play the puck. This was one of those times.


Sliver24 said...

Fist off, good job embedding that vid. Though I saw it on the CBC when it happened it saved me the trouble of having to hunt it to wantch it again. I needed to confirm that you're 100% wrong about this. I did. You are.

While I agree that my opinions tend to be swayed by the fact that I'm a Habs fan, I also feel that the fact that I realize that's the case at least tempers the partisanship of my opinions. I would like to point out that I was one of those guys that thought Bergeron was as at fault about his cuncussion as Jones was.

All that being said, what the hell was Van Ryn thinking? That same play happens a dozen time per game. The defenceman in that position has two options available to him. The proper thing to do is eitrher a) put yourself on the boards as you play the puck so that you can absorb the the hit that you know full well is coming, or b) play the man by stopping hard and trying to bump him off course. Most sensible d-men cut their losses and choose the former, but some of the sturdier among them choose the latter often enough.

Watch the vid again. Van Ryn looked like he was going to rim the puck as he hit the boards and absorb the hit. For some reason, a split second before doing so, he decided to stop slowly three feet from the boards and turn his back on the 4th liner (!) he just glanced directly at. The only thing I can figure is that he saw Lapierre coming hard down the left side and second guessed his decision.

The more I watch it the more sure I am that Van Ryn was the author of his own demise. Kostopolous is a tough player but he's no Hollweg. I think that, once he's able to watch video without experiencing severe nausea, Van Ryn might even tell you the same.

Topham said...

I agree with you Arpon.

Eliminating these hits is more important than some annoyed Habs fans. If Van Ryn had been injured the same way Bergeron was, this would have been tragic. The hits must be punished – it's the only language players and coaches seem to understand.

I think if you asked Bob Gainey, he'd say the same thing.

Arjun said...

K will get a few games. If only because this happened in Toronto. But I don't know how suspending him will change anything. Unless you make the glass or the boards out of foam or some kind of weird Japanese invented padded material, this injury is going to keep happening. I don't see how you can legislate it out of the game.

Habitant d'Ecosse said...

It looked to me like TK was lining up a side on hit as van Ryn went past with the puck. van Ryn seemed to turn back the way he had come so TK completed his move but against the back of van Ryn instead of his shoulder. Sometimes in hockey nasty accidents happen. Maybe TK could have been more careful but so should van Ryn.

If anyone is to blame its 50 - 50 on this one.

Habitant d'Ecosse said...

By the way - after looking at the replays and adding the comment above, I have just now read TK's statement

"I didn’t anticipate him turning and couldn’t stop."

That is exactly what I saw - van Ryn took an extra turn and it didn't come off. This is a fast game.

I hope van Ryn does OK and believe TK feels the same.

A nasty accident, that's all.

jew4jah said...

"But you don't suspend players for intent, you suspend them for actions"

- according to campbell, the suspension was, in part, for the injuries sustained. how do you feel about that?