Later this afternoon, Andrew Ference has a phone hearing with the NHL to discuss what happened last night. What happened, by the way, was him hitting Mikhail Grabovski’s head with his elbow. Let’s check out the video, then discuss what we think it’s worth (in ternms of supplemental discipline), if anything.
The pucks gets chipped into the corner by Joffrey Lupul, who intends for Mikhail Grabovski to go pursue it. He does. Andrew Ference sees Grabovski heading to get the puck in the corner, and sees he can be first on it. He leaves his post at the front of the net, and a foot race for the puck is on. Whoever gets to the puck first is likely going to get hit by the other guy. Ference gets their first, but instead of focusing on the puck, he focuses on the man about to engage him in contact. Grabovski sees Ference get to the puck first, and seems to want to step around him to engage from the other side of him. Ference goes from initially bracing for contact, to realizing he’ll have to extend himself to do so. He chooses to extend with his arm, and his forearm catches Grabovski in the head.
I think Andrew Ference really thought he was going to get hit and hit hard, and is prepping for two players going shoulder-to-shoulder going to war over the puck. He gets his shoulder low initially, leaves the puck knowing it’ll be there after the contact, and suddenly…his foe is doing something else. But he’s already leaning in doesn’t want to miss a bodycheck while leaving the puck, which would leave Grabovski alone with the puck and him being the guy who went for the body instead of the puck and doofed up, so he wants to get some contact. It’s a reach as much as an elbow, but it’s a bad hit.
I think he should, and will get a game suspension for the contact to the head. I don’t think he targeted it, but when I think all is said and done, he’s responsible for himself and put another player in danger with his actions.
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 Leafs fan and you think it was vicious and terrible that your opinion will be immediately discounted. I just think it helps with context.