The Stew: Taking the Hit, RIP Swede, Opportunity Draft
Taking the Hit
I am a little late jumping into the fray on this discussion from last week, but several people have asked me for my take on the Brandon Tanev hit on Jarred Tinordi back on March 16. Here goes: I thought it was a legal hit.
It wasn't charging. Tanev came from across the ice but didn't accelerate into the hit. He didn't leave his feet.
It wasn't boarding. The hit itself happened well away from the boards.
It wasn't checking from behind. The hit was delivered from the side. It wasn't even a play where the recipient turned toward the boards at the last moment and made himself vulnerable to contact to the numbers on the back.
There was no head shot delivered.
It wasn't a late hit. Tinordi had just gotten rid of the puck and you couldn't count to two Mississippi before the contact.
It failed the "Udvari Test". The Bruins on the bench and the ice didn't react with any anger to the way their teammate was hit. They scarcely reacted at all until it was clear that Tinordi was in a bad way from the awkward and scary-looking outcome after the hit.
So what was it? It was a player where Tinordi had his feet too close together to absorb potential contact and never looked around ("head on a swivel") He was, thus, violently propelled all the way into the boards.
No one wants to see a player hurt. But there should have been no penalty at all on the play let alone the expulsion of Tanev on an outcome-driven ruling.
In the bigger picture, this a fruit of the poisonous tree play. If we are still going to have hitting in our sport, we have to better teach young players how to ABSORB a hit properly as well as doing a significantly better job in teaching how to deliver hits. I see it all levels of the game, and it filters down from the pros.
RIP Swede Knox
I was saddened today to learn of the cancer-related passing of prolific NHL linesman Swede Knox at the age of 73. Swede was one of the true titans of officiating. He officiated nearly 2,250 games in his career from 1972 to 2000. He worked games involving basically every one of note in the NHL during his prolific career.
In 1999, Swede fulfilled a longtime dream. A part-time college student since 1987, working on his degree in the offseasons, he obtained a BA from Athabasca University in 1999.
He will be missed but never forgotten.
In a year in which many leagues have had limited -- or no -- schedules, NHL amateur scouts will have their work cut out for them at the Draft table this year. Don't forget that seasons worldwide were abruptly ended early last year, too, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, I think shrewd scouts and GMs can make out better this year in the mid-to-late rounds than they do in an average draft. There were good players who drop due to under-exposure.
If I were an NHL scouting director, I'd also want my scouts to pay a little closer attention than normal to players who are a little older; perhaps in their second or even third year of Draft eligibility. I'd put a premium on demonstrated hockey sense, work ethic and character. I also think this is a year to focus on what the candidates CAN do rather than the areas where we are trying to fill in a lot of blanks.
Then again, what do I know?