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Hockey Challenge 2014

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My take on the Leipsic hit

Since everyone has posted their opinions on the hit, I thought I would write something up on it.
But, to be unusual, I am not going to give my opinion (but I think it is easy to figure out).

Instead, I am going to look at why I think this type of hit has no benefit, no good outcome, and is completely irresponsible, and has no spot in the game.  I would say this if it was Brendan Leipsic, Evan Wardley, or anyone one else from any other team.

First, let me state the details of the hit that I see with pictures

Seattle is breaking out of the zone after the puck was thrown in front of the crease

Kolesar has picked up the puck, and is skating in wide open space.

It should be a 2 on 2, but Leipsic is so far behind the play,  he is coming back up the ice, so it really is a 2 x 3, but still in wide open ice

Elliot is ready to receive a pass, and it appears that Kolesar is looking at him, but there is no need to make the pass for three reasons, the defender is close to Elliot, the defenders are skating backwards, and there is quite a bit of open ice

You can see Leipsic on the very left of the image

Leipsic appears to have had him lined up from when Leipsic was roughly 10 feet on his side of the red line, and Kolesar was 5 feet inside his own zone, a total of about 40 feet (blue line to red line is 25 feet)

Leipsic takes a couple strides, and coasts into the check (Still image cant show this)

Kolesar seems to be glancing at Elliot to see if there is a pass

Right before the hit, Koelsar had decided to go to the outside, where he has quite a bit of room and is on his forehand side (you can see he is turning, especially in slow motion on the video)

One can assume Kolesar never saw Leipsic, either because 
1) his head was down (most people believe that, except that pervious point where he has decided to go to the outside, so he must have seen the position of the defenders somehow)
2) he was concentrating on Elliot and if he should pass or not
3) he had glanced down to make sure make sure the puck went with him on his cut to the outside

When Leipsic makes the hit, he explodes in an upward motion (very hard to show in a captured image)

After the hit, Leipsic knew exactly what he had done since
He turned back to look at Kolesar
He did not skate to find or start skating to the loose puck
He sees Elliot skating at him and knows what is coming, and starts to get out of the way
Instead of defending himself to everyone, he skates directly away from the play

Notice I did not make any mention of checking to the head, purely because the video makes it appear that Koelsar was hit in the upper chest / head area

This type of play is useless

I want to look at the different possible outcomes, based on how the play could have happened differently.

I start by assuming that Kolesar sees Leipsic coming at him:

1) Kolesar braces himself for the hit, and since he appears to be leaning down, has to brace himself by coming up, bring his stick up, and probably makes contact with Leipsic, possible in the head area.
     Outcome: Either Leipsic takes a stick to the head or chest, or they both collide going full speed, and one or the other gets hurt

2) Kolesar makes a cut even wider, and Leipsic naturally sticks out his knee (see it many times a year in hockey.
     Outcome: Usually, one of the players ends up with bad knee and surgery

3) Kolesar makes a cut even wider, and Leipsic misses him
     Outcome: switches to a 2 x 2, and Leipsic looks like a fool

4) Koleser makes the pass to Elliot, and because Leipsic has him lined up, follows through with the check.
     Outcome: About the same result as happened, except most likely, Kolesar is more vulnerable, since he is following through on the pass across his body.

5) Kolesar decides to dump the puck earlier.
     Outcome: Routine play turning into a forecheck situation.

Now, what happens if Leipsic makes a difference choice and decides not to line him up?

6) Leipsic comes at him and turns to force the play one way or the other.
Outcome: Kolesar either turns over the puck or dumps it in.

7) Leipsic comes at him and tries to play the puck.
Outcome: Kolesar either turns over the puck, or there is a loose scramble for the puck, and since Portland has another guy coming back and they likely get the puck.

8) Leipsic comes at him with not so much speed, and finishes the check.
Outcome: Most likely with not so much speed, Kolesar sees him and takes the hit, and because Kolesar is bigger, traveling at a rate of speed faster, Leipsic gets run over.

I am sure there are other outcomes, but in all of the above, making the safe non-violent play and forcing Kolesar to dump the puck has a better outcome then lining Kolesar up and nailing him.

The situation of the game

I will admit that emotion plays a huge part in hockey (I may or may not have done a few things as a result of frustration in my adult hockey league, but I am not a top NHL prospect either).  But even when frustrated, you have to control yourself.  Just like your stick, you have to be in control of your body.  If you choose to make a straight line towards a puck carrier from approximately 40 feet you run the risk of making this type of hit, something that represents a poor decision.

A lot of people are saying the if the ref's had made calls on Seattle players going after Leipsic all game, this never would have happened.  The dirty play goes both ways in every game, for both teams, for all players. Home team fans will usually say the away team was the dirtiest team out there.  Away team fans will say the home team got away with everything because they were the home team.  If the refs called every single thing that happened in the game, we would play 30 seconds of 5x5 hockey (the first 30), and the rest would be 3x3, because all players would be in the box.

The suspension length

I spent a little time looking at all the videos posted on the OHL and QMJHL websites on suspensions. Those two leagues put out a video explaining the suspension and length.  I could not find one that was exactly like this.  Most that were close involved players making a straight line for another player, and checking them from behind.  Others were more raising elbow into a player that is passing by in the head region.  In most of the videos above the suspension length was around 6-8 games.  However, ones for repeat offenders were longer.  The OHL seems to go to 15 games, the QMJHL to 10.  We all know that the WHL seems to go lighter on these in past seasons, but are starting to increase and crack down.  The fact Leipsic is a repeat offender (twice, and once because of a similar play) I am sure will come into play.  I also think that the Wardly hit on DeCamplain earlier in the season will have to come into play, since it involved the same two teams, and a somewhat similar play.

The end result

At the end of the day, you have one hockey player that is suffering from a concussion, whiplash, soreness, etc.  And you have a player that is sitting around waiting for Kevin Muench to call and tell him how long he will be sitting.  Any way you look at it, not a good situation any way you look at it regardless of the team you cheer for.

A few other comments in bullet points
  • Like or hate Elliot, you have to admit that he did show good restraint by not trying to push the linesmen out of his way trying to get to Leipsic.  For a brief time, the linesmen had to hold him back.
  • Linemen Ryan Gibbons was very smart on this play grabbing Leipsic and getting him out of the situation.
  • The book is out on Leipsic.  You play him close, tight, keep a body on him,  keep your stick on his, frustrate him, and most of all, you make him work as hard as you can.
  • Leipsic slammed his stick on the glass on his way off the ice.  I sure hope that was in frustration with himself, and not because he was being called for a penalty.
  • Boy did Seattle sure find a way to totally kill off any momentum they might have gained from the 5 minute power play by taking two minor penalties and giving up the go ahead goal. 
  • These two teams dont meet again until February 1st, back down in Portland. Something tells me the WHL will have its best refs there, and its head of officiating


Anonymous said...

I like the write up. I'm guessing we'll hear today about Leipsic's suspension, but I'm not sure what to expect in terms of length. I'd like to see ten games, at least, since Wardley got four with little or no prior history.

Kodi said...

I wouldn't be surprised if we see the infamous TBD appear which will prevent him from playing tomorrow (last game until break) and it gives the league a bit of time to dwell on it.

Anonymous said...

No suspension for Leipsic? Are you kidding me?

Kodi said...

They usually don't post them until end of day on a game night. Portland has a game tonight so if nothing is posted by 6:00 PM then I would be annoyed.

(I would also note that if for some reason he isn't suspended then someone will probably be getting suspended the next time Portland and Seattle play)

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised there isn't one posted yet, but they've still got some time before Portland and Everett drop the puck tonight. But I also agree, if there's no suspension (he should get something just for being a shit as he left the ice), the Birds will come looking for a pound of flesh come February 1.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kodi. Just looking at the suspension list it seems most announcements are made a day or 2 after an incident, we are on day 3.

Anonymous said...

I expected a TBD Sunday, Monday at the latest.

Anonymous said...

At least one reinforcement has arrived. Lane Pederson is now listed on the Tbirds roster for tonight's game. Hopefully there is some good injury news regarding Barzal and/or Yak, and of course Kolesar's too even though he surely will not be allowed to play.

Anonymous said...

Per Andy Eide and Tim Pigulski on Twitter, Leipsic gets a seven game suspension and our injury situation remains murky.

Anonymous said...

When Leipsic tries this "cheapshot" garbage in the AHL or ECHL, he will get his real punishment. Should have got 10 games.
Wish there was a way Don Cherry could show this on Hockey Night in Canada saturday night.

Leipsic's mom should be proud of him on Christmas Break.

Anonymous said...

hes just an 18 yr old kid... talking about his mom and saying your "coming for a pound of flesh" is a new low for you guys. Keep chanting "portland sucks" and well keep winning titles while you sit home wondering what could have been.

Anonymous said...

Ok. Keep getting to the Memorial Cup tourney only to lose it in the last game.

Mr Tell13 said...

@anon 12:26
Well since we are talking about personnal values and beliefs in how hockey should be played (as in this kind of hit has no place in the WHL)
I think it is fair to say that maybe Leipsic's parents are not very happy with this latest suspension. I think its not a insulting comment at all.

When you say "keep winning chanmpionship" don't you mean "went to the finals twice before we manage to pull one out"
Keep would imply more than one WHL championship in a row.

And for this powerhouse of a franchise, Portland fans are getting rattled way too much by a stupid chant by some stupid fans. Overcompensating much?

Like I said in a previous post, not much suprise that Portland fans are justifying a bad hit that had no reason or rymes to it. I mean the current team is built on the cheating ways of their GM/coach....

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