I realize the kerfuffle over Niklas Kronwall’s hit on Ryan Kesler last night has somewhat died down by now (hell, in Twitter time that story is weeks old), but we need to talk about this: what the hell was with him throwing that hit with his back?
First, watch the video one more time, then let’s discuss.
I’m curious about this hit, mostly because it could’ve unfolded like a completely normal (albeit large) one.
First off, credit where credit is due to Niklas Kronwall – that was gloriously timed, and just another reason he finished number two on the Backhand Shelf’s “scariest hitters” list (we’ll get to the “did he jump” part later).
My two main thoughts on the hit: first, he looks like he may be thinking hip check, with the way he curls into him. But this is an NHL defenseman – once he decides to not throw the hipper, he could certainly get his shoulder down in time for the check with a simple half-pivot. Instead he chooses to pivot…the other way?
Secondly, he does kind of jump (and is obviously propelled upwards so it looks worse), but not in a normal, Andy Sutton type of way. He jumps like a high-jumper, back going over the bar first, ready to arch and land nicely on a soft mat. ….except it’s Ryan Kesler’s body, which is decidedly less soft (yes, that’s a link to the ESPN Body Issue picture).
A number of people pointed this out to me – PK Subban did this last year, when he pulverized the snot out of Brad Marchand, stopping him dead in his tracks with what folks are calling “the bee sting.” Enjoy:
THUMP. Now that’s a back hit.
So I dunno. Maybe there’s something to this method – you are guaranteed to never get your hands/elbows up, and a “clipping” head shot isn’t possible….just a broken back for you.
So the last thing I want to ask from this incident: is Ryan Kesler ever happy (outside of when he’s Keslurking)?
theScore clips interesting audio from post game interviews (like, oh I dunno, “setting up the play” and stuff). Somehow, without fail, Ryan Kesler works his way in there about every other week complaining about how somebody wronged him. It’s his evil twin’s version of Keslurking.
I’m a big fan of the guy as a player. Big man, Selke winner, competes like hell, but it just seems like today (whatever day) is never a good one for him. Here he is casually pouting that Kronwall wouldn’t fight him after throwing the hit:
Bieksa: “Because it’s sneaky, it’s dirty.”
You may not like the hit because you think Kronwall jumped, but I’m pretty sure we can all agree on one thing: hammering a guy who has the puck hardly qualifies as “sneaky.”