It turns out, someone caught the footage of the Taylor Fedun injury tonight here in Minnesota. After watching it a few times, I am reluctant to call it a "hit" by Nystrom. Certainly, the result is terrible, and nothing anyone wanted to happen. However, this looks to me to be purely a result of a terrible rule being in place as two hockey players try to get to an iced puck.
Looking at the rules on the books, and the video, it just does not seem to be something worthy of suspension. Many will see it differently, and call me a homer.
After the jump, the justification for my thinking, and the video.
First, the video:
The icing rule, 81.1 in the NHL rule book reads as follows:
For the purpose of interpretation of the rule, "icing the puck" is completed the instant the puck is touched first by a defending player (other than the goalkeeper) after it has crossed the goal line and if in the action of so touching the puck, it is knocked or deflected into the net, it is no goal.
Any contact between opposing players while pursuing the puck on an icing must be for the sole purpose of playing the puck and not for eliminating the opponent from playing the puck. Unnecessary or dangerous contact could result in penalties being assessed to the offending player
Boarding, the call on the ice, is rule 41.1, which reads:
A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player or goalkeeper who checks an opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to be thrown violently in the boards. The severity of the penalty, based upon the degree of violence of the impact with the boards, shall be at the discretion of the Referee.
Looking at the video, I see two players going hard after an iced puck, and Fedun getting tangled up with Nystrom's stick (which in in position to play the puck).Nystrom looks to make a completely legal play, according to the rule book, and the on ice officials made a bad call based on the result of the play. Far be it from me to say they shouldn't have made the call. I likely would have, too. But the way the boarding call reads, that was not the right call.
As much as I think if a suspension would help, everyone would be all for it, this isn't a matter of unsafe play. It is a matter of an absolutely horrible rule being on the books, and the powers that be being completely unwilling to use basic reason to protect the players.
Some say it is a contact sport, that few players get hurt this way. Two players now, in recent memory, have had shattered femurs (one of the strongest bones in the body) as a result of this rule.
If suspending Eric Nystrom will result in this rule getting changed, then suspend him. I'll sign off right now. But from where I sit, this is the direct result of the rule, not of any malice, a dirty play, or even a rule violation. The way the rules are written, this is exactly the type of play that falls within the scope of play.
I don't like it. Change the rule. For now, Eric Nystrom did nothing wrong. A suspension may make people feel better, but it doesn't make much sense.
All the best to Taylor Fedun. Everyone here hopes he has a speedy recovery and is back on the ice as soon as possible.