CAN_OSThis is the cover of the Ottawa Sun this morning, after the Ottawa Senators beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 in the first game of their first round NHL playoff matchup.

It shows Lars Eller, a Canadiens forward, bloodied on the ice after Eric Gryba, a Senators defenseman, ran him over in Montreal’s defensive zone during the second period. It was a play for which Gryba would receive a five minute major penalty and a game misconduct.

Exploitative photographs are nothing new for a tabloid newspaper, but the disregard for an individual’s dignity in the cover photo is emphasized by the diagnosis Eller received following the collision. After being removed from the ice on a stretcher, the 23-year-old spent the night in hospital receiving treatment for a concussion, facial fractures, dental fractures and facial contusions.

As athletes get bigger and faster, leagues will have to adapt their long-held practices and standards for protective rules. Several pundits suggested that despite the penalty and game misconduct, Gryba’s hit, which delivered so much punishment to Eller, wasn’t actually an infraction of the NHL rule book.

Just like the NFL, the NHL has been plagued by concussion issues which represent a serious danger to the quality of life – not just talent – of the athletes it depends on to deliver its product. Taking the issue lightly or mocking it with a pun on the cover of a major newspaper isn’t helpful in the least.

Comments (25)

  1. I miss the days where I enjoyed hockey.

  2. What an embarassment. This classless rag does not speak for all of us in the Capital. Here’s hoping Eller recovers fully.

  3. I take a little issue with the last paragraph. The paper, and media in general, are not the source I look to lead the charge for change. I look to the media for discussion. Discussion is what sells whether it is controversial or thought provoking. I am fine with the picture, I am fine the subtext below, but the headline was thoughtless. If you were hoping that a headline was going to change how hockey should be played, you may be externalizing things too much.

    • You’re adding your own words to what was written. I merely wrote that mocking it wasn’t helpful.

      • Very well. Thanks for clarifying. I enjoy your writing because it is the thought provoking stuff I like. In this case (and many others) I was off a little bit.


  4. This is most likely going to bring up the discussion of every player wearing full cage masks in the coming years. Eller’s teammate sent a pass that hung him out to dry, and if Gryba didn’t finish his check when the puck got to Eller, he would have been called out by Don Cherry and every other old school hockey “analysist”. There’s a double standard in this sport when it comes to the violent areas of the game, and that has to stop.Protect the players from themselves, make the cages mandatory. Yes, fighting would end too, but let’s be honest, fighting in games today is not what it was back in the 80s and 90s anyways.

  5. As soon as I read the tweet leading to this article, I knew it would be a Sun Media publication. It’s like the editors and writers need to pass a weeklong course for assholes before getting put on the job.

  6. Clean hit. Eller’s own teammate is to blame for that suicide pass. Maybe Eller slept with the guys wife

    • Wrong thread to argue that point. The discussion here is about the insensitivity displayed by Sun Media in showing that photo on the front page not about legality or fault of the hockey play itself.

      • 2 things:

        1. GHut isn’t arguing anything. He holds the truth.

        2. The invitation to discuss legality was open when the writer of the post added the following: “Several pundits suggested that despite the penalty and game misconduct, Gryba’s hit, which delivered so much punishment to Eller, wasn’t actually an infraction of the NHL rule book.”

  7. “Several pundits suggested that despite the penalty and game misconduct, Gryba’s hit, which delivered so much punishment to Eller, wasn’t actually an infraction of the NHL rule book.”

    The so-called pundits haven’t been following the evolution of NHL rules. The league added rule 48 for exactly such incidents ans the hit is an infraction: “48.1 Illegal Check to the Head – A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted.”

    I know the referees and the league have discretion in rule 48, but they created the rule to curb this exact hit, the blindside hit to the head.

    • Watch the hit. The principle point of contact was NOT the head. It was a clean hit. The Sun? Well, they’re dirty bastards.

    • Ellers head was far from being targeted, you can still hit people in the head, it just cant be first contact

  8. As a Habs fan I think the hit was perfectly legal, he shouldn’t have gotten the misconduct but I wouldn’t blame the refs call on the atmosphere in the arena. It happened so fast and from the refs point of view it looked like contact to the head. They can’t get every call right and Ottawa still came back to win it.

    On a side note, you shouldn’t humiliate the kid by putting a picture like that on the cover of a newspaper but thats the world we live in I guess.

  9. I’ve seen a couple of dozen photos of Eller and that one was nowhere near the worst. Nor does the headline celebrate or glorify what happened. I’ve been in the newspaper biz for decades and this sort of thing is discussed all the time – where is the line? I don’t work at a tabloid, but IMHO for a tabloid, this isn’t a line-crosser.

    Nit to mention the fact that it is being discussed here and elsewhere demonstrates that the Sun did its job perfectly.

    • Tsk. *Not* Dang typos.

      • I guess the question is, do they run the same headline and photo if Montreal wins?

        The problem I have is that it’s a bit of a double-meaning that implies that badly injuring an opposing player was a victory in itself…

  10. Their goal is to sell papers. Figure it out.

  11. Rule 48 doesn’t apply. Concussions can be caused by whiplash, not necessarily direct head trauma. Eller was out before he hit the ice and that’s what caused most if his injuries. Ask Nick Kypreos. It wasn’t the punch that broke his face, it was the fact he was unconscious when his face hit the ice. Same thing with Scott Stevens – Paul Kariya, Kariya was out when his head bounced off the ice.

    The NHL is doing a fine job of cleaning up the actual head hunting, hits like this are simply a part of the game. Eller and Diaz are professional players who have been playing hockey for the better part of 20 years and both have a responsibility to be aware of their surroundings and realize what’s unfolding in front of them.

    As for the Sun, I see no mocking. Sens drew first blood, true. All anyone is talking about is the hit, true so they put a picture of “The Hit” on the page, so what? It’s ok to post a pic of any of the other horrific things that papers put on front page but not this? TOO SENSITIVE!!!!

  12. I’m also a Sens fan from Ottawa. Agree this is a distasteful cover and classless. But it’s the Sun, this is their M.O. They by no means represent all of us. I think the hit was clean, but here’s hoping for a speedy recovery for Eller. You never wanna see anyone injured like that.

  13. Somebody, sooner or later, is going to wind up dead. I’m not even sure that will be enough to bring about a change. Apparently permanent disablement, broken knecks, mental retardation, depression and suicides don’t cut it, so why should someone flat out dead on the ice make a difference? But it’s going to happen.

    In the years before Ayrton Senna was killed, deaths in Formula One were comparatively common. Roland Ratzenburger died the day before Senna, and in the years before that deaths in F1 certainly were not unknown. It took the death of a superstar to get the drivers themselves to organise and demand changes in safety, and public scrutiny to force F1 to accept it.

    Before Senna, the risks were … ‘part and parcel of a dangerous sport’, ‘you can’t remove risk from the sport’, and danger was of course part of the attraction of seeing men travel at close to 200mph, etc, etc. Since Senna, there have been no F1 deaths, basically because everybody lost the desire to see people die any more.

    The NHL resists change at every stage, worried that without violence, they don’t have much of a product. (The Sun’s coverage tends to confirm that suspicion, of course.) They’re even in the process of removing funding from Boston University’s studies into concussion, because, in their view, the results suggest concussion is too widespread – in other word that BU’s research is biased. Yeah right, in a toss up between BU and the NHL it’s going to be BU that’s biased, isn’t it?

  14. primary contact to the head……suspension

  15. I love being outraged by headlines in tabloids. It’s how I make the world a better place.

  16. Another reminder as to why I do not read the Sun… Totally classless. This front page unfortunately brings shame to our otherwise nice city… This does not represent us at all.

  17. The embarrassing moment. Please take care in future.

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