It seems hard to believe, but the NHL regular season will be over in just three more days. Like winter, the playoffs are coming, but before we launch ourselves full bore into the postseason, lets take a look back at the season that was. Specifically, I’m interested in looking back at the dirtiest cheap shots of the season.
I have compiled a list of what I believe are the ten dirtiest cheap shots of the season. I included a couple from the preseason, as the suspensions the players received carried on into the regular season and they were pretty dang cheap. Which is the dirtiest or is there one that I didn’t include that outdoes them all?
Here are the 10 cheapshots in chronological order:
1. Jody Shelley on Darryl Boyce
This preseason boarding major was one of Brendan Shanahan’s first tests as the new head of the Department of Player Safety and he handed out a hefty 10-game suspension (5 pre-season, 5 regular) to Jody Shelley. Darryl Boyce’s back is to Shelley for at least 3 full seconds before Shelley runs him into the boards directly through his numbers. Ugly, ugly hit.
2. James Wisniewski on Cal Clutterbuck
I’ve seen a few people talking about Wisniewski’s massive preseason suspension as if he was unlucky to run into a trigger-happy Shanahan. Then I watch the video of him jumping into Clutterbuck’s head with his elbow after the horn had sounded to end the third period…yeah, that was a pretty well-deserved 11-game suspension (3 preseason, 8 regular).
3. Patrick Kaleta on Jakob Voracek
It’s still bizarre watching this one. Clearly, Patrick Kaleta is a Pokemon fan and he mistook Jakob Voracek for a tree, as he blatantly headbutted him. Alternately, Kaleta was just emulating his hero, Zinedine Zidane. Those are the only explanations that I can think of, as this is essentially inexplicable.
4. Chris Stewart on Nicklas Kronwall
There’s not a chance that Nicklas Kronwall even knew Chris Stewart was there. He looks over his right shoulder at the last second, likely because a teammate was yelling, but by then it’s too late. Stewart hits Kronwall right in the numbers, but it’s the follow-through from his arms that makes this dirty, sending Kronwall head first into the boards.
5. Kevin Porter on David Booth
For all the fuss that has been made of late over concussions and head shots, knee injuries end a lot of careers as well. Kevin Porter has plenty of time to avoid a knee-on-knee collision, but doesn’t, bending David Booth’s leg momentarily backwards. Porter was suspended for 5 games; Booth missed 18.
6. Andy Sutton on Alexei Ponikarovsky
Andy Sutton is 6’6″, so when he leaves his feet, it’s noteworthy. Sutton jumps into the hit, making contact with Ponikarovsky’s chin with his forearms, sending Ponikarovsky’s head into the boards. Having already been suspended 5 games just a month earlier, Sutton received no mercy from Shanahan, getting suspended for 8 games.
7. Rene Bourque on Nicklas Backstrom
If the Capitals end up missing the playoffs, you can look back at this elbow as being a big reason why. With the puck gone and Backstrom no threat to join the rush, Rene Bourque sticks his elbow directly into Backstrom’s jaw for essentially no reason whatsoever. Bourque was already on the books with a 2-game suspension just a few weeks prior to this elbow and got 5 games from Shanahan. If the extent of Backstrom’s injury was known, he might have gotten more, as Backstrom missed 40 games with a concussion.
8. Dan Carcillo on Tom Gilbert
Ironically, Dan Carcillo got the worst of this dirty hit, as he sent Tom Gilbert flying dangerously into the boards, only to have him land on his left knee and tear his ACL. Gilbert missed 14 games with a knee injury of his own and Carcillo was suspended 7 games, though he would end up missing the rest of the season with his injury.
9. Brad Marchand on Sami Salo
With all the emphasis on going high with hits, this cheap shot was a reminder that going low can be just as dangerous. While some tried to characterize it as a hipcheck gone wrong, the fact that Marchand led with his shoulder should quickly put that theory to bed. Marchand was suspended for 5 games, while Salo missed 6 games with a concussion.
10. Duncan Keith on Daniel Sedin
As further evidence of how much the Canucks are hated around the league, observe that 3 of the 10 worst cheap shots from this season were perpetrated against them. The latest was a Duncan Keith elbow to the head of Daniel Sedin, with neither player having touched the puck. There were some who wanted to characterize this as retaliation for an earlier hit by Sedin, but that doesn’t exonerate Keith; instead, it makes his actions worse as it would ascribe intent and maliciousness to Keith’s actions rather than simply a mistimed play in the moment.
So what are your thoughts on this list? Which is the dirtiest? What cheap shots did I miss?