Last night, Chris Neil of the Ottawa Senators laid a hit on the Rangers’ Brian Boyle. Half of the hockey world is demanding suspension, the other half for it to slide. At first glance, I thought the hit was suspendable. But, looking more closely I am not so certain.
Let’s take a look.
Now, let’s slow it down.
When I made the shortened video that was used to create this .gif file, The total time of the incident in the video from Boyle taking his shot to landing on the ice and Neil skating away took 1.47 seconds. At .46 seconds into the video, the puck left Boyle’s stick. At .87 seconds into the video, contact was made. By NHL standards, this could possibly be considered a late hit. (But honestly, who knows considering the fluctuation in standards from day to day.) Now let’s look at some freeze frames.
In the first picture, Neil and Boyle are aligned shoulder-t0-shoulder.
Next, here is the point of contact.
It looks as though Boyle’s neck met Neil’s shoulder.
I don’t think this is a dirty hit and for Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella to compare this with Raffi Torres’ hit on Marian Hossa is a gross exaggeration of events. Chris Neil did not leave his feet, was aligned shoulder-to-shoulder, and did not exhibit any sort of upward motion showing that he was intentionally targeting the head of Boyle.
It has been confirmed that Boyle is unfortunately out with a concussion. Yes, there was some contact with the head, but it appears primarily the neck.
Now, let me explain something from a first hand account. I suffered my second concussion back in October. Do you know I am being treated for now that my symptoms have not subsided? Whiplash. Based on what all of my doctors are explaining to me (which makes sense), force to the neck/head are related. Why? Because you have twelve pounds flailing around on a stick. Neck trauma can cause concussion like symptoms.
Plus, the force of the hit causing the jarring of the head, neck and thus the brain.
You don’t need to take a shot directly to the head to be concussed. Force trauma causes the concussion.
I actually do not believe that Neil should be suspended. One thing that I will say though is that the refs in this league have GOT to stop swallowing their whistles when a guy is down on the ice. It look too long for the whistle to be blown. Also, Neil does need to be more aware of the timing of the hit. But I don’t believe that this was dirty or that there was intent to injure.