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Doughty Fined for Hit on Oshie

Much to the dismay of Blues fans, Drew Doughty was not given a suspension for his illegal hit on Blues forward T.J. Oshie.

I am not implying anything by using the term “illegal.”  While Doughty was not suspended for his actions, he did receive a small $2,500 fine from the NHL. 

Don’t know about the hit or the punishment?  Here is all that you need to know.

What happened?

The Los Angeles Kings had a 3-2 lead on the St. Louis Blues late in the 3rd period of their game Tuesday, November 22 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri.  With just under two seconds remaining in the game, the Blues defense fired the puck toward a swarm of Blues forwards.  T.J. Oshie received the puck and carried the puck into the zone.  He skated along the boards and was watched closely by Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.  The young King skated with Oshie along the boards until Oshie turned his back to Doughty and faced the boards, still skating with a head of steam.  As Oshie turned his body, Doughty met him with a shove to the small of his back that sent Oshie into the boards head/shoulder first.  Oshie was estimated to be about 2 ½ to 4 feet away from the boards at the time of the hit.  Doughty was given a two-minute minor penalty for cross-checking on the play.

When asked about Oshie’s status after the game, Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said, “He’s good.”


The NHL’s Official Statement

Since this hit resulted in just a fine and no suspension, NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan did not release a video with an explanation of his ruling.  The NHL released a statement in the video’s absence that contained the following explanation:

NEW YORK -- Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty has been fined $2,500, the maximum allowed under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for cross-checking St. Louis forward T.J. Oshie in NHL Game No. 298 Tuesday night in St. Louis, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.

The incident occurred at 19:58 of the third period. A minor penalty for cross-checking was assessed on the play.

The fine money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Not too clear on the reasoning, is it?

Kelly Chase’s view

Twitter has given us the opportunity to see what our favorite hockey experts think about every play in every game.  Kelly Chase (@Chasenpucks39) has jumped on this idea and posted his thoughts today on the Doughty fine:

[I] do [believe] that Doughty hit was dangerous but not the extent of Stewart.

The problem is when a kid like Oshie is actually hurt you dont know cause all these guys throw their [head back every time they’re] bumped.

If [you’re] foolish enough to think Shanahan is trying to stick it to us your very naive. but yes I think Doughty should have got a game.

My Take

Everyone has been making comparisons to the recent Chris Stewart suspension.  Stewart was given a three-game suspension for his hit on Niklas Kronwall last Tuesday on a very similar play to Doughty’s hit.  Where is the difference?

I feel that Kronwall left himself in a much more vulnerable position than Oshie did.  Kronwall was pursued by Stewart from the back for what was the entire play stretching from the middle of the blue line to where the hit took place along the boards.  Stewart had more momentum on his shove which resulted in a much more dangerous play.

Keeping that in mind, I feel that Doughty’s hit was still very dangerous.  Despite Doughty being alongside Oshie on the play, he still hit him with a good distance between the player and the boards.  Doughty could clearly see the numbers on Oshie’s jersey, meaning the player has to make an attempt to “let up” on the hit.  I feel that he did this but not to the fullest extent. 

As I mentioned in my article on the Stewart suspension, I have always been a proponent of suspending the play and not the result; meaning that it should not matter if a player is injured in result of an illegal hit.  If this type of hit is to be taken out of the game completely, this idea needs to be applied into the ruling process. 

So I guess I need to answer one question:  If I were Brendan Shanahan, what would my ruling have been? 

Considering that the NHL does not share my belief that the action should be punished and not the result and that this hit is very similar to the Stewart hit, with Stewart receiving a three-game suspension, I would have given Doughty a one-game suspension.  This hit was still illegal enough to receive supplementary discipline to the fine and the minor penalty originally given to Doughty.  He could have avoided the hit altogether or even taken some of the blow off his shove. 

Brendan Shanahan has done a fantastic job thus far as the league disciplinarian.  I think he had a slight miss on this ruling, though.

NHL statement courtesy

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