Monday, October 4, 2010

Intentions vs actions

I know a lot of you just don't want it to be true, and that's why you're trying to blame the victim when discussing Michael Cammalleri's momentary lapse of reason Saturday night in Quebec City.

I've heard via Twitter and through conversations with friends and people I don't even know that Nino Niderreiter got what he deserved for attempting to decapitate Cammalleri with a blindside hit.

The problem I have with that argument - and it's a major one - is that the hit Niederreiter laid on Cammalleri was clean. He made no contact with Cammalleri's head, as far as I can see, and when that's the case a blindside hit like that is still legal, particularly when Cammalleri has just released the puck as he did Saturday night.

Why don't you judge for yourself?

Watch that hit a few times and tell me whether or not Niederreiter actually made contact with Cammalleri's head. I really don't think so.

If that's the case, who cares what he was trying to do? If we start doling out penalties or suspensions based on perceived intent, how big of a can of worms does that open up? If someone falls and his stick comes up and hits nothing, does that merit a high-sticking penalty because you can perceive that maybe he swung his stick intentionally in the hope of taking someone's eye out? How about when someone lines up an opposing player, charges after him, but misses? It happens at least four or five times a game, so do we penalize each of those plays because the player was attempting to commit charging, but simply failed?

The answer is no, and frankly, I don't know how anyone can honestly say that Niederreiter was trying to hit Cammalleri's head but missed. If Neiderreiter, listed at 6-foot-2, wanted to elbow the 5-foot-9 Cammalleri in the head, I think he would have done so. Instead, what he did was hit him in the shoulder with his own shoulder. He laid a bodycheck. Yes, it was lateral and met all the criteria for the new rule against blindside hits except for one crucial aspect - he didn't hit Cammalleri in the head.

So Cammalleri is clearly upset, and he loses it. While watching the sequence, try to think to yourself at what point Cammalleri could have stopped himself, could have said this is a nothing game that's already been decided and I'm a veteran guy who is important to my team. Just watch:

I'm sorry, but Cammalleri had at least three opportunities to stop himself before laying the two-hander to the back of Niederreiter's skate. There was the initial hit in retaliation, then the brutally dangerous jab in the face with the stick, then another cross-check, and then he slashed him Bobby Clarke styles.

You want to talk about intent? Cammalleri had a blatantly obvious intent in each of those instances, and he executed.

That kind of stick work simply can't be tolerated, and I truly believe that if Cammalleri himself wasn't the perpetrator, he'd agree with that statement wholeheartedly.

Monday is when Cammalleri finds out whether or not he'll miss the season-opener in Toronto, but I think it's a given that he will. I think he'd be lucky to play in Pittsburgh in Saturday as well. 

And he has no one to blame but himself.

P.S. I know I haven't been very active on here lately but I'm still trying to nail down a very exciting development for The Daily Hab-it that I hope to be able to announce to everyone this week. Meanwhile, I'll be in Toronto covering the season-opener for on Thursday and couldn't be more giddy about my first hockey game at the ACC. I'll be posting on Twitter throughout the trip and blogging as well.

It just remains to be seen if that blogging will be appearing here or someplace else. Stay tuned.   


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you on that one. I was surprised to see so many habs fans try to justify the slash and exonerate Cammalleri because of the initial hit. Come on. We'd all be calling for Niederreiter's head if the situation was reversed and Cammy had been hit, highsticked in the face, cross-checked and slashed in the ankle after a hit.

yvresgyros said...

Hey Arpon,
Fair assessment, as always.

Please, while in Toronna, make a run at the AAC poutine stand and come back telling us it's got nothing on La Banquise, or Rapido for that matter. That would reassure the troops!


djrss said...

Hi Arpon,

I'll admit I was one of the Twitter followers who initially defended Cammi's actions. However after watching both clips and reading your astute observations AND cooling down and taking a rational look at the situation, I 100% agree and cannot condone what Cammi has done.

Now, the real question is, what is the NHL going to do about it? You're right that in siding even just a little bit with Cammalleri they stand to open a big can of worms. Does Cammalleri have a history or is this a first time offense?

Great post as always! Looking forward to Thursday! GO HABS GO!

Will Rose said...

I just wanted to add... not only did the original hit not blatantly target the head, but I believe that even the claim that this was a "blindside" is debatable. Before contact, you can see that Cammy is angled slightly inward towards the centre of the ice. Nino came in mostly from that side (though admittedly a bit from behind). If Cammy had his head up, he probably could have seen Nino coming, hence not a "blindside" hit. Because Cammy had his head down and was concentrating on making a pass to his teammate on the other side, that's what made the hit look worse than it was.

Open Crate said...

Good on Cammy. Although he didn't pull a Cooke-Savard, it was obvious that was close to a charge, a blantant intent to punish Cammy, just because he's a smaller forward.

Cammy took justice into his own hands after the ref's turned away. And I'll tell you one thing: Niederreiter learned something that night. You think he's going to pull a stunt like that again? I'm sure he will curb it. And I'm sure players are grateful that Cammy stood up to him, and let him know that the INTENT TO INJURE IS UNACCEPTABLE... It's one thing to wack a guy on the ankle, which looked light and harmless, but it's another thing to intend to take someone out of the game, or out of the season, affecting the rest of his livelihood. Good on you, Cammy. And if you have to sit out the next couple of games, that's fine. The bigger picture is more important.

J. said...

I'm sure I've seen slashes that didn't connect that were still called. (And I'm not even talking about twigs breaking, which is another topic). It has to be blatant but the ref has to be able to control the game.

I'm not saying Cammy's any more right, but that was a terrible game. The NHL should be ashamed.

Oh and good thing the kid is 18.

Craig said...

Lets call a spade a spade here. Watch both clips. Nino doesn't get Cammy's head - but he's going for it. Thats why Cammy is enraged. He came from behind and hits with his shoulder in an upward motion. Intent. It was a clean hit, but he was trying to ring Cammy's bell. This is not blaming the victim, but its a clear view as to why a seemingly enraged Cammy went after another player.

No excuse for what Cammy did.. but what I'm reading is a whole lot of over-reaction to the actual crime that Cammy committed. He never should have hit Nino in the face, and he should be punished for it. But people are reacting like that is what he was trying to do - watch the clip. This is a high slash that is aimed with a stick at chest level.It was a bad high stick and should be punished as such. The slash on the legs is laughable for Nino's reaction. You'll see it 500 more times this year. I have honestly no idea why people are freaking out as if this is Todd Bertuzzi V2. Cammy will be suspended like he should be for 1-3 games.

Jay said...

"who cares what he was trying to do" come on man. We should be looking at the act and the intention, not the result. Nino was trying to lop off Cammy's head and physics got in the way. None of this justifies Mike's temper flaring but to pretend that Nino didn't have it coming or at the very least didn't put himself into this situation is to be ignorant of the facts of playing hockey. The swiss miss was trying to make a name for himself and he failed so miserably he can't skate for weeks.

Will Rose said...

"Nino was trying to lop off Cammy's head and physics got in the way."

As Arpon said, if Nino wanted to take off Cammy's head, he easily could have. Cammy had his head down, so the chance was there and Nino decided not to. It was a clean hit.

pmk said...

I'd say the stick to the face was pretty nasty and dangerous but I have no problem with the rest - even if he does get suspended. Kid had it coming.

On another note. Guerin was let go from philly. would you give him a contract for around a 1 million?
top 9 would look like this:


thats not bad... cap space you say? thats easy - demote obyrne.

Milos Coko said...

ahh sometimes I really miss pre lockout hockey. My thoughts mirror craig's exactly. Nino wanted to clock cammy while he had his head down (no, I don't see anything dirty about laying a big hit on a careless opponent, I applaud it) - cammy took offence to it, maybe cause it came from a supposedly mouthy rookie in a preseason game and sent him a message. No harm done. Pre lockout Nino would've dropped 'em after the slash, him and cammy would have a tillie and we'd get to watch highlights of fight and the ensuing bench clearing brawl rather than spend the following week debating motives, physics, and philosophical implications.

Rocket fan said...

I think everyone is focussing on the one event of the hit on Cammy. Usually the cause of such an unusual outburst is something that has happened earlier or throughout the game. To assess this properly one would need to track the interactions or what was said between the two players (like "your mother is a ..."). I doubt the single hit precipitated Cammy's apparently irrational behaviour. Cammy is too classy a guy to get into it in public.