Another night, another stretcher case in the playoffs. Frank Doyle reports.
In the NFL, they call it “clipping the dummy.” Every player on the field is fair game to get blocked once the ball is snapped. Mostly, they’re left alone, because what’s the point? There’s plenty of hits to made over the sixty minutes.
But every now and again someone decides to treat himself and “clip the dummy.” Lay someone out just because he can. The most infamous example of this was Warren Sapp’s cheap shot on Chad Clifton when the Bucs hosted the Packers in 2002. Sapp hit Clifton when Clifton wasn’t looking, and destroyed him. Clifton was in hospital for a week, and couldn’t walk unaided for five.
And then last night, the Coyotes’ Raffi Torres laid the hockey equivalent of clipping the dummy on the Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa during Game 3 of their playoff series at the United Center. It was the 12th minute of the first period. Hossa, standing near the boards, had passed to the middle and was watching play develop. In the meantime, Raffi Torres had lined him up and took off. Torres slammed into the defenceless Hossa, off his skates aiming at the head. Hossa was stretchered off and brought to hospital.
No penalty was given, despite a referee being three feet away – in the footage, you can see him brace himself as Hossa crashes down. But while no penalty was called on Torres, Chicago’s Brandon Bollig got himself ten minutes on the pine for attempting to enforce some mountain justice on Torres five seconds after Torres laid out Hossa.
Jonathan Toews, only just back from a concussion-related injury himself, was visibly upset by the hit on Hossa. Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville condemned the refereeing as “a disgrace.” The fact that the Blackhawks suffered a five minute penalty in Game 2 when Andrew Shaw hit Mike Smith, and Shaw a subsequent three game suspension, doesn’t help Chicago understand what’s going on here.
This should have been Mikkel Boedker’s night. The Coyotes’ right winger scored the winner in overtime to give Phoenix a win on home ice and a 2-1 series lead. But nobody’s talking about that today. What people are talking about are the minutes an immobile Hossa spent laid out on the ice and what Brendan Shanahan is going to do about it.