Hawks accuse Wings' Smith of 'dirty' hit

Detroit's Brendan Smith may be facing disciplinary action for his vicious hit on the Hawks' Ben Smith. AP Photo/Charles Cherney

The Chicago Blackhawks' preseason match-up with the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday took on a different tone at the 5:26 mark of the third period.

That's when Brendan Smith of the Wings nailed Ben Smith with an open ice-shoulder-to-head hit. The referees summed it up, at least according to Hawks coach Joel Quenneville.

"Both referees said it's a classic example of what we're talking about, that's the illegal hit," Quenneville said.

Hits like these occur when a player is about to be beat.

"I'm a D-man too, when you get burned like that you do anything you can to slow him down, but at the same time it's a dirty hit and those are the ones we're trying to take out of the game," Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said.

Seabrook knows a thing or two about getting hit in the head. He's been nailed twice in the past two seasons, but both of those were straight on. Seabrook said it's much worse coming from the side because of the whiplash effect.

Jonathan Toews likened it to sticking a knee out as a player flies by. Again, it's to avoid being beat.

"My theory is if I can't hit at least half of their body then I go by them," winger Jamal Mayers said. "That's the way I've approached it. You're either going to hurt yourself or someone else. Typically when you just stick out your leg or shoulder or elbow and don't get all of the guy, or at least half of him, you're going to be susceptible."

Mayers made those comments after practice on Tuesday. Little did he know how true they would be 24 hours later.

"The severity of these suspensions has been very big," Quenneville said. "It's going to get their attention. Players will learn."

That's little consolation to Ben Smith, who laid motionless in one of the scarier moments the United Center has seen in a while. He could be out a day, a month or a year. There are simply few hits, especially in open ice, that are worse.

"You don't want to get beat one on one, but there is ways about it that you can't do," Quenneville said.

Until players learn that lesson, the hits will keep on coming, and so will the concussions.