While Alexander Ovechkin found himself in a bit of hot water over a hit on Sunday, the league’s other poster boy was involved in his own questionable play. Unlike Ovechkin, however, Sidney Crosby was on the receiving end of the hit.
The hitter was none other than Tampa Bay Lightning pest Steve Downie. Downie has a well-earned reputation as a dirty player; between the Akim Aliu hazing/cross-check incident, sucker-punching Jason Blake, slashing an AHL linesman and a brutal hit on Dean McAmmond, he’s crammed a lot of both stupidity and nastiness into a very young career.
Downie had gotten a bit of a fresh start in Tampa Bay, and he has made the most of it; through 66 games the forward has set career highs in goals (17) and points (40) and for most of the year has looked like he’s serious about altering that reputation. In a story that ran in the National Post just four days ago (entitled “Downie making noise for the right reasons”) the promising winger suggested that he had changed for the better:
“I made some mistakes along the way, but things are coming around right now and looking up. I was young and I learned a lot in the last couple of years and I am continuing to learn. So I’ve put all that behind me and I’m moving forward.”
Here’s what Downie did to Crosby on Sunday:
Downie argued that he was just battling for ice, while Crosby said the hit was “questionable.” The replay is ugly, and given Downie’s track record I can’t think of a good reason to assume good faith on his part.
I imagine he’ll get a light suspension; this wasn’t a headshot so while it was probably as dangerous it doesn’t generate the same kind of outcry. Just watching the video though it sure looks like a situation where Downie was trying to damage his opponent, and he really ought to face some discipline because of it.