Jack "The Stapler" Johnson

There’s a new-ish phenomenon in the NHL these days which requires anyone who throws a big hit to fight immediately afterwards. Jack Johnson found that out tonight in Winnipeg the hard way.

In a way this was a very similar play to the hit that has knocked J-M Liles of the Leafs out with a concussion, only instead of Liles we have Stapleton and instead of the enormous Paul Gaustad we have Johnson. The good news is the hit is totally clean – no elbows to heads or anything like that – and Stapleton, like Liles, has the puck so it’s not as if it’s a dirty behind-the-play hit. The unfortunate part is that the pass both players took put them in this precarious position.

Here, Johnson catches an opposing forward trying to take a pass in the slot and plants him. Quite frankly I have no problem with this hit and I don’t see why Johnson ought to fight Evander Kane because of said hit. If anything, Kane should be punching Blake Wheeler in the head for feeding Stapleton the suicide pass in the first place.

Watch and judge for yourself.

The worst part for Johnson? He has to fight someone named after Evander Holyfield. Sure, he sort of came out on top, but I would hate to be tangled up with that guy.

Comments (5)

  1. (1) I think its ridiculous that people get jumped on any hit that seems “big” these days.

    (2) I’m probably wasting my time, but Its hard to tell from that clip whether Johnson’s arm or elbow makes contact with Stapleton’s head. It seems close from the one angle behind Johnson. That said, Johnson needs to recognize that Stapleton is in a dangerous position and, yes, take measures to avoid for a headshot. Stapleton is turning around, has poor balance, and doesn’t need to be “steamrolled”.

  2. If you don’t like a big hit, throw a big hit later on that guy. But if the play was clean, punching him is a stupid idea.

    This is another symptom (along with reckless high hitting and head-hunting) of a complete lack of regard and respect for one’s opponents. It’s already begun destroying careers and hurting the overall game as a result.

  3. I don’t understand why people are surprised by this, to be honest.

    ‘Big hits’ have no hockey purpose beyond causing injury or intimidation to the other team. The second one’s a completely honest, legal, valid (and effective) strategy, but if someone like Johnson is going to introduce intimidation into his game, he can’t complain when someone decides to call his bluff and test him to see if he’s as fear-inspiring as he thinks he is. Niklas Kronwall, more than anyone else in the league, could stand to learn this instead of cowering behind a referee because he doesn’t want to accept the wrath of a skill player he just punked by charging him.

    And no, that guys might be taken to task for taking runs at other guys is not new, nor is it a sign that there’s a lack of respect. These ‘runs’ are what show a lack of respect, and it’s THOSE that happen more frequently (take Aaron Rome’s check on Nathan Horton: 15 years ago there were, maybe, 4 players who would throw that hit with that degree of force: Kasparaitis, Stevens, Samuelsson and Marchment. Now? There might be 100 who would have done the same thing). So the reaction, which are meant to be a deterrent toward guys showing a lack of respect by running the opposition, also happens more frequently.

  4. I agree with you Chris. If the check is legal, then the person shouldn’t have to fight over it. It may not be popular, but an instigator penalty should be handed out. And, on this play, Kane should have gotten 2 more for instigating with a visor on.

    And Larry, I think there were plenty of people who would have thrown that hit 15 years ago. I’m sure Beukeboom would have leveled that guy. I wasn’t too much into hockey then, but I’m sure lots of people would have thrown that hit.

    • Forgot Beukeboom. Yep, he’d have thrown that hit. You can add Tinordi as well, but that’s about it. And then Beukeboom would have fought somebody because that’s what you’ve always been asked to do when you try to level someone with a bodycheck.

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