And that’s as much as I can make a sentence sound like Brendan Shanahan without using the exact words he uses.
Let’s talk it out.
Sami Salo has the puck in the neutral zone, and moves it D-to-D to his partner, Victor Hedman. Hedman gets his feet heading up ice intending to gain the red line and make a play. Lupul is on the neutral zone forecheck, playing the role of F1, meaning he will mirror the puck D-to-D, and try to pressure Hedman before he can dump the puck in. As Hedman gains the line, he sees he has teammate Steven Stamkos cutting across the blueline, and decides to give him a bank pass off the near boards with his backhand, which he successfully completes. Lupul carries on to finish his check, and while Hedman may or may not be aware contact is coming, he’s starting to lean away. Lupul extends himself up-and-in to Hedman, making the head the principle point of contact. Hedman stayed down after the play, but there’s no word on his injury just yet.
Some of the Leafs, Kadri and Lupul in particular, had been after Hedman for a chunk of the game. Lupul’s immediate excuse for what happened after the game was pretty hilarious…
Lupul says he was cutting toward the middle when the Hedman hit happened. Didn’t intend to hit him let alone get him in the head. #leafs
— David Alter (@DavidAlter590) March 21, 2013
…which tells me he’s well aware it looked bad, and probably went worse than he intended. Regardless, I think we can all agree that he was at least trying to put contact on Hedman, and is lying about that part.
He’s not moving very fast (which makes a difference to me), but I don’t care for the initial point of contact – the dude’s mind – and I do feel that he had to elevate to get to the big man’s head, so that makes it feel intentional. I don’t think it was an elbow, I think the image at the start of the video of the just the natural extension of throwing a check. But man, y’know when you drive a golf ball and catch it right on the sweet spot? That’s how that shoulder-to-head contact looked. Just pure. Combine all this with the first time offender factors, spin the wheel of justice, annnnnnd:
He should get suspended – I’ll be happy with two or three games for this.
In the comments, we’d love to hear if you think this was a malicious play, a hockey play, or something totally different. The caveat: as always with “Court of Public Opinion” posts, you have to honestly list your favourite team (I have no dog in the fight as an Isles guy). That doesn’t mean if you’re a Lightning fan and you think it was vicious and terrible that your opinion will be immediately discounted. I just think it helps with context.