In last night’s game between the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning and the Toronto Maple Leafs, a questionable hit by Joffrey Lupul on Victor Hedman occurred.

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.

The facts:

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.

My opinion:

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…

…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.

Your opinion:

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.

Comments (74)

  1. LEAFS FAN

    Should be in the 2-4 range although four would feel a little harsh considering I think it’s not as bad as Perry’s.

    Hopefully the league screws up and he gets a fine but 2-4 seems right for trying to pop Hedman’s head off. Penguins fans might have enjoyed seeing Crosby’s golfing buddy getting Hedman though.

    • ISLES FAN

      I think the speed he’s moving – not fast at all – makes the hit seem more mundane to me, despite the perfect “no-no” point of contact. Starting to lean more towards two.

  2. Leafs fan. It pains me to say it, but it’s suspension-worthy. It’s the little lift off the feet at the end that really makes it a problem. I think Shanahan will put a game on it, but I could see two. I hope Hedman’s all right, at least he made it back out that game.

  3. Habs fan here: I guess Hedman can be thankful Lupul wasn’t coming at full speed. Still it’s a bad hit to the head, unnecessary considering that you have them already beat on the scoreboard! 2-3 games

  4. Habs fan here.

    I think he gets 3-4.

  5. Leaf fan.

    The hit was dirty, but with Lupul being a first time offender and no injury* on the play I don’t think it gets more than 2. I do think it was sort of revenge for going at Kadri last time they played.

    *if it comes out that Hedman is injured then obviously the number of games will go up.

  6. Bolts fan here. Obviously I think this is a dirty hit. I would think so regardless of which jerseys they players were wearing. The real question for me is, where is the rest of the team? No response, no retaliation from the Bolts? Weak.

    • Retaliating after a hit is about the dumbest thing you can do, though. Pick up a minor / major / instigator when Hedman’s already up on his knees?

  7. Leafs fan. 2-4 games. I think it wasn’t as bad as Perry’s but could see the argument.

  8. Leafs fan – when I watched this in real time I had trouble figuring out how the hell Lupul even managed to get all the way up to Hedman’s head, but he definitely did. Like Justin mentioned Lupul wasn’t moving particularly fast, so the hit didn’t seem as violent as other suspension worthy blows have, that being said I think it will either be 1-2 games, or possibly just the maximum fine since Lupul has a clean record.

    • I want to add that the discipline vetted out on this hit will go a long ways to showing whether the suspension is based on the actual merits of the act (a multi-game suspension) or the optics of the hit (didn’t look as bad because of the lack of speed and therefore he just gets fined)

      • That’s an interesting take. I tend to think of these hits as snowflakes — they’re pretty much unique, and I don’t think we’ll ever get to a table of possible outcomes where justice is meted out in a perfectly even-handed manner, or a set of minimum sentences that get handed out based on a rate card of offenses.

        There are so many factors involved in any hit — body parts, location on ice, speed, timing, charging, injury, reputation, vulnerability. And that’s not including the perception by fans, where every suspension is challenged because of loyalty or conspiracy theories.

  9. Sens fan.

    Think it’s impossible to rule intention because there was no obvious charge/puck had just left, but it was clearly shoulder to head on an unsuspecting player. Two seems appropriate.

  10. GOT TER KEEP YER HEAD UP BOYZ.

    Am I doing it right?

    A couple of games at least, perhaps more if Lupul is a repeat offender (don’t think he is, but I might have missed something).

    Bruins fan.

  11. Leafs fan. I’m guessing two max although I think it’s more bad judgment and bad timing than malicious. Lupul has been playing pretty hard since he came back, combine that with rust and this is what you get. He has no record, which plays in his favor, but he could easily have held up and got a clean shoulder, which is what makes the hit look worse IMO.

  12. Rangers fan – I’m really terrible at predicting suspensions, but the hit isn’t late, and while Lupul definitely meant to check Hedman, it doesn’t look like he was intentionally going after the head. I could see a game or two, but not more.

  13. Rangers Fan

    I think that it will be 2, maybe 3 games considering Corey Perry got 4 and this hit did not look as bad.

    I would love to know if all of these suspensions are effective and making the game safer. I don’t think that is going to be discernible for a couple of years though as in order to really see if there is an effect, someone needs to keep track of how many hits to the head there are in the NHL each year and see if there is any progress being made.

  14. Capitals Fan

    Said this on twitter, but FWIW, I think he gets one game.

    Also, this seems to be the exact same hit NBC spent three hours killing Alex Ovechkin for not making on Derek Stepan a couple weeks ago.

  15. It’s always amusing to me that a player at 6’1″ can hit another player that’s 6’6″ in the head with a shoulder when both are standing. I get headman is slightly crouched and lupul “exploded” but yeah.

    Oh yeah I’m off topic, uh Phoenix fan, 2 games i guess.

    • That’s sort of what I was thinking about. The simple fact that the head is the primary point of contact despite 5 inches between them (sure, Hedman was slightly crouched, but Lupul’s shoulder is probably a foot below Hedman’s head if they were both standing straight up) tells me that Lupul was trying to go up and get the head. If he just wanted the shoulder, he wouldn’t need to go up.

      In summary:

      Habs fan. I expect 1-2 games, feel it should be 3-4.

  16. Leaf fan

    1game… 2 games max, Lupul left his feet or it would have been a fine at most. No record, much less time passes than Perry case (about 1 second max after puck leaves stick). Lack of ugly looking injury.

  17. HABS FAN

    Lupul should get 2 games, but he won’t get any. No injury on the hit, and prior offences. If this were a full season he would get the 2 games for sure, but it seems like the “harmless” head shots this year are getting away with fines or nothing at all.

  18. Sabres fan.

    HE SHOULD BE STABBED!

  19. Canucks fan, here, I tend to be more severe than Shanny, and would go with something between 3 and 5 (four, I suppose :-) but i feel he’ll get 2.

  20. Isles fan.

    IMO a stupid play by Lupul. Hedman releases the puck and Lupul continues and makes direct contact with Hedman’s head. I think it can be 3 games.

  21. Pens fan.

    Agreeing with Bourne – probably a game or two. No where near as bad as what boarding can do, but clear contact with the head should lead to a suspension.

    And, yes Pension Plan Puppets, Pens fans probably are getting a sense of karmic justice for what Hedman did a few years back – but speaking personally, I don’t wish Hedman ill-will, since he was penalized for that hit.

  22. Leafs fan: 2 games. He could have destroyed him legally by putting the same shoulder down 1 foot.

  23. Sens fan – Lupul sure had to get up there to use his shoulder to hit a guy 5″ taller in the head. I’d guess 3 or 4 games.

  24. Kings fan – 2-3 games seems about right. Shanny will probably go with 2 since he tends to undercut what I think by 25% most of the time.

    It did look like Lupul raised up slightly before the hit, and it was also a bit late. But not enough to move it past that range.

  25. Leaf fan. Out of character for Lupul. I’m thinking he’s just trying extra hard to make an impact (pun somewhat intended) in the shortened season but no excuse. He lined that one up pretty clearly.

    Whatever happened to bending the knees and putting the shoulder into the solar plexus or the floating ribs? You still get the TKO but no brain bruises.

    Sad to say but 2 well deserved games.

  26. Leafs fan: 10 games. I don’t care that he didn’t hit him very hard, I don’t care whether he intended to hit him or not, I don’t care how badly Hedman was hurt. He hit him in the head, and there is no excuse for hitting a guy in the head. You start giving major suspensions for every head shot, and guys will be much more aware of everyone around them and where they hit guys.

    For what it’s worth, I think he’ll get 2 or less, which is a load of crap wishy-washy suspension that basically says the NHL doesn’t really care about eliminating head shots.

    • + 93980239482342304

      This crap has to end.

    • I don’t entirely agree with 10 games for EVERY hit to the head. Deliberate ones – yes, by all means enforce a minimum number of games for a suspension – but if I guy is coming through the middle of the ice, head down on full tilt speed, and a d-man jumps on the opportunity to make a hit, is the d-man’s fault if the forward decides to skate with his head down into straight into his shoulder?

      And height never works into any of the taller player’s favour either. St. Louis’ head comes to like Chara’s elbow, it’s almost a guarantee that Chara is going to hit a guy that small in the head, whether it’s intentional or not. Leafs fan btw.

      • “is the d-man’s fault if the forward decides to skate with his head down into straight into his shoulder?”

        I think the general consensus answer to your question, if asked today, is “NO”. But I think that is crazy wrong and needs to be changed. I think it should absolutely be the responsibility of the person throwing the hit for the hit. I think its crazy that we somehow blame the player on the receiving end of a hit for the consequences of that hit. To me, its like blaming the batter who got hit with a pitch for not ducking fast enough. If we are serious about getting rid of these types of hits, then we need the players to start looking at hitting differently. We need to make the more responsible for how, and why, they hit. Will we “lose” some of the “cool” open ice hits if we make that change? Sure, but to me, the trade off is so worth it.

  27. Leafs fan.

    He definitely had to elevate to make contact where he did, although you might say he turned when he did to protect his tender(?) forearm? Overall I’d say totally avoidable. Lupe’s getting 2-3.

  28. Looked fine to me.

  29. Hedman should get at least 2 games for head butting Lupul in the shoulder, disgusting play…

  30. Leafs fan here. Irresponsible play by Lupul, but cmon Hedman couldn’t sell that anymore if he tried. Guy goes down like he’s unconscious when he has a slow-moving shoulder brush his helmet? 1 game tops.

  31. No suspension he came right back on the next shift.

  32. NJ Devs fan here:

    At least 4 games. To me, this hit is just as bad, if not worse, than the Perry hit. I think it’s pretty evident that Lupul was aiming head with this hit. Hedman wasn’t ducking, was just following the play, and Lupul came in blind to him and went directly shoulder to head. If this isn’t the exact kind of hit we’re looking to take out of the game, I don’t know what is. Throw the book at him.

    • unless the league makes “throwing the book” at someone more than 4 games, this stuff will never change.

    • What the hell are you talking about? Perry came from behind the guy and elbowed him in the face while jumping, all after he gave up possession of the puck. Lupul grazed a guy at open ice who was crouching, maybe a little late and definitely high, but he was in Hedman’s line of sight before he hit him. If Hedman didn’t collapse like cheap lawn furniture this wouldn’t even be talked about, but pretending you’re shot is sure to get exactly what he wanted.

      • Perry was finishing his check, and his opponent admired his pass instead of protecting himself in a position where a check was likely. I don’t remember the Macho Man Savage flying elbow you described, but maybe I got hit in the head too many times.

        On your description of this hit – “Grazed”? Okay, sure. You go ahead and get “grazed” by a 6-1, 210 lb hockey player.
        “Was crouching” – His knees were bent like a normal hockey player. He didn’t make any sudden movements before the hit. This does not hold water.
        “A little late and high” – Correct. Sounds suspend able to me.
        “In his line of sight” – Did you even watch the replay?

        Nice try to spin it, though. I still say this hit is at least as bad as Perry’s.

  33. Leafs fan.
    I think he ends up getting the max fine (it’s a phone call, not an in-person meeting).
    Likely should get 2 games though for being careless (I don’t think it was malcious, but I do think he tried to initiate contact there)

  34. He left his feet. Hit an unaware player in the head well after he got rid of the puck. 5 game suspension minimum.

  35. Leafs fan

    Wow, everyone is pretty much in agreement here. Which obviously means the League will give him a fine.

    He should get two.

  36. You call that a headshot?

    • Hah, oh man.

      • This reminds me of an article here some month ago, where the comments spun out of control and into awesomeness. Anyone who read them knows which one I’m talking about. Which article was that?

        sens fan, the suspension will be too short and ineffective. They need to hand out some real monster length ones to get players to think twice before hitting. I’m pro physical hockey of course but the hits to the head has to go.

  37. Leafs Fan

    2 games. He could have hit him shoulder to shoulder. I’m mad at him for doing this when it’s 4 – 0 and he’s finally back from the arm injury and playing well. Bad decision but I don’t think he’s a repeat offender. We need this guy on the ice – not back in the press box.

  38. Flyers fan (and still a fan of Lupul from his days as a flyer): Should get at LEAST 2 games. This hit has everything DOPS says should not be in a hit, blind side, head contact, leaping (albeit very slight). The only thing at all saving Lupul from looking like Raffi Torres is that fact that he was moving slowly when he hit him… he didn’t charge him like crazy to blast him, but he did all the wrong things and if they want these hits out of the game players have to change their mindsets when initiating body contact.

  39. Idaho Steelheads fan

    Can’t believe Lupul put down his bong long enough to hit anybody. When I’m high, that’s the last thing I can imagine doing.

  40. NYR fan. Also fan of old people having the ability to speak and do basic math.

    He’ll get his 3 games, and learn nothing.

    What he should get – 10 games, and maybe he’ll learn (and the league will learn) something. There is NO reason to throw that hit. None. The puck was gone. Lupul wasn’t flying at some crazy rate of speed that he couldnt move out of the way. He had stopped skating and coasted the last 10 feet. Still, he decided to throw a completely meaningless hit, and to throw his shoulder upwards to a player who was probably not expecting it, which opens up the risk of a head shot. Until we get people to stop thinking this is acceptable, it will not change.

  41. Bolts fan. I get that it didn’t look that bad, but Hedman got up drooling (that’s a bad sign) after a blow to the side of the head (non-axial, close to the temple) and Lupul elevated into the point of contact; leaving the ice.

    Based on recent suspensions handed down, probably 2 games.

    But, I’m one of those fans who believes that if the league truly wishes to rid the game of blows to the head they should evolve a more Draconian standard – Beginning with 5 games (minimum) and escalating in dramatic fashion, for subsequent infractions.

    They’re going to need to pad the players’ emergency-fund (perhaps setting up some sort of interest-bearing trust account) to deal with the class-action suit (that’s sure to come in a few years) as evinced by what’s gaining traction in the NFL, among families of CTE sufferers, and bolstered by recent national medical findings revolving about concussion protocol in sport.

    I do believe that head-shots are, by their nature, predatory – Whatever happened to the art of hip and body-checking?

    • “But, I’m one of those fans who believes that if the league truly wishes to rid the game of blows to the head they should evolve a more Draconian standard – Beginning with 5 games (minimum) and escalating in dramatic fashion, for subsequent infractions.”

      Yup.

    • I completely agree with you. Bolts fan too myself. One other issue for me is that players often get hit in the head and return only to find out later that it’s worse than they thought. I haven’t heard any updates on Hedman today. He was drooling for #$*@’s sake.

      • Definitely. In many cases (and I speak from experience, as a person who’s incurred a few concussions as an athlete) the adrenalin (as well as the cultural “I’m okay, I can play. Put me in.” macho culture) factors into an ill-informed judgment, by the player and his team, in allowing him to return to playing.

        There’s a burden of responsibility that befalls an injured player’s training and medical staffs, wherein organizations should voluntarily adopt a “quiet room, hit-the-showers, done for the night” policy as regards head trauma.

        But, we’ve all (secretly/unspeakingly) known this, for many, many years.

  42. Penguins fan

    He ticked all the boxes of what the GMs don’t want (not a full body check, head is targeted and the principle point of contact) at a game they all attended. At the same time, there wasn’t enough juice on this hit to really hurt Hedman and, to my knowledge, Lupul’s never done anything like this before.

    So my guess is 1. Possibly 2 if the GMs up in that box had a few too many scotches at that point in the game and called Shanny to complain about it.

  43. First off, Sens fan.

    In regards to the possibility of going over 5 games, it is highly unlikely. I recently listened to a radio show with lawyers talking about the new CBA, and it seems that part of this agreement is that if a suspension goes 5 games or more, the NHLPA has the option of asking for a review by an independent arbitrator, which essentially removes all disciplinary power from the NHL. The NHL does NOT want this to happen! So unless we see another Bertuzzi head shot, it is highly unlikely that we will see anything 5 games or over.

    Now back to my prediction – This should be 4 games. Here we have a player leaving his feet to make the initial point of contact the head of another player. To make matters worse, this wasn’t a high speed hit, meaning Lupul had a much longer time to decide where he was going to hit Hedman, and he still chose the head.

    My guess is that a game will be removed from this suspension because Lupul is a first time offender.

    So 3 games for this one is my prediction.
    nd another game because the hit was not a vicious “high speed” hit. With that being said, it is my belief that a player moving the speed that

  44. Habs fan here

    Regardless of what Shanny and the powers that be do I think Air Canada should cancel their NHL sponsorship over it. Like they did when Chra tried to murder through decapitation Patches.

    No wait Air Canada never followed through on that lame threat did they? And there was nothing long term seriously wrong with Patches was there ( he missed infinitely fewer games than Sid did)…………..

    Lupol two games for scoring too much.

  45. Diving call on Victor Hedman, he felt the shoulder pad and flopped to his left.

    Prediction: Just a fine for Lupul.

    I support the NHLPA.

  46. Islanders: It seemed to me that he got that feeling when you see a guy eith his head down at center ice and you want to level him for a huge hit then Hedman moved and he still had that want to get the big head-hunter style hit it so he tried to explode through Hedman and came up high as many players (including myself at times) do when looking for the big bone-crushing open ice hit. Nonetheless he still did make shoulder-head contact and deserves 2 games in my opinion.

  47. Watching it again it didn’t look as bad the second and third time. Some serious embellishment on Hedman’s part, but still Lupul looked like he was hunting throughout and got caught in an awkward attempt.

  48. Sorry, Devils fan

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