If you have read any of the Chicago sports publications today, you get the general feeling that Bruins’ defenseman Johnny Boychukmurdered Blackhawks’ center Jonathon Toews on the ice last night. Did that happen? No, not at all. In the middle of the second period of Game 5, Toews had cut to the middle of the ice in the offensive zone. He entered in with his head down and Boychuk finished a check at the shoulder level. There was head contact on the play. Toews went down, and came up yelling at the ref for a penalty. There were two refs who saw the play made, and neither of them felt it was a penalty. (Neither did the folks over at Hockey Night in Canada for that matter.) The Blackhawks went on to win that game 3-1.
Here’s a re-play of the hit. Feel free to judge the level of contact for yourself.
However, it has been revealed to sources of CSNNE.com that Brendan Shanahan and the Department of Player Safety has viewed the hit. The DoPS has been frightfully inconsistent with its calls so far this season, allowing serial offenders like Matt Cooke to get away with significant hits with not so much as a ‘Hey, stop that!’. So, Boychuk could get a call from DoPS about the hit sometime today. Boychuk has never been suspended during his NHL career, and the refs did call it a clean hit.
In my opinion, I agree with the refs. The hit was clean. I’m sorry that Toews got his bell rung in such a manner, but the principal point of contact and the hit was on the shoulder. Blaming Boychuk for inertia is like demanding Patrick Kane be suspended for whatever injury afflicted Patrice Bergeron in the same game.
I doubt this will mollify any of the Chicago Blackhawks fans. Some of them have made impassioned pleas for Boychuk’s suspension in order to preserve the integrity of the game. Whether it be passion, bias, or just the need to be obnoxious I’ll leave to the reader.