TAMPA, Fla. -- If you ask Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville which controversial non-call by the referees in Wednesday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning infuriates him more, it's not the one that lost the game.
Still in doubt is whether Lightning forward Martin St. Louis scored an illegal goal to win the shootout. St. Louis performed a spin-o-rama, which is legal, but then brought the puck back to his backhand in a separate move, which is not supposed to be allowed.
But the non-call that could cost the Hawks much more than a point in the standings was a clear shot to the head Dave Bolland received from Pavel Kubina of Tampa Bay. It happened at center ice with no other traffic around the two players. Bolland was clearly stunned and left the game in the first period, and he did not return.
He's day-to-day but with the enhanced focus on head injuries, its unclear how long he will be out. It could be one day or three months. See Sidney Crosby, and countless others, for evidence.
By the time you read this, the league may have taken action on Kubina and sitting out a few games seems to be in order. While the hockey world was unjustly up-in-arms about the hit Zdeno Chara of Boston put on Max Pacioretty of Montreal, they should point to Kubina as the type of hit that has to stop. His elbow/forearm takes a direct shot at Bolland's head -- for no reason.
Chara hit Pacioretty with a clean hit, albeit a second late, but those things happen. The fact he hit the stantion is just bad luck. Are players supposed to change how they deliver a check near the benches as opposed to other parts of the ice? Sponsors are threatening to walk and Canada wants to open an investigation. Its hard to imagine something more silly going on in hockey, but it is hockey, so you never know.
The bigger outrage should be towards hits like Kubina's on Bolland. That's a hit which shows no respect for a fellow player. If you're looking for intent, getting an elbow or arm up that high as you go by a guy shows pretty clear what the player is trying to do. A shoulder-to-shoulder check along the boards, like Chara delivered, shows good form.
It's hard not to take the end result out of it, but it's necessary in making a proper evaluation. Bolland spun around, dazed, and left on his own power. Pacioretty violently hit the stantion and left on a stretcher. It doesn't change how the hits occurred. What's next? A guy gets illegally tripped, falls, bangs his head, so the tripper should get 10 games?
Interference is part of the game, so is tripping. Those are minor infractions which call for minor penalties, though there is some leeway to add extra time because no two infractions are exactly alike. However, an elbow to the head adds a layer of stupidity or intent which has to be addressed. Yes, elbowing penalties happen. An elbow to the stomach gets two minutes, one to the head, gets more.
If Chara is penalized further, what would it be for? Five games for interference? It sounds as silly writing it as it does to say. Kubina should be drawing the outrage, not the league, and not Chara.