With one disturbingly massive hit, Eric Gryba irrevocably changed the complexion of this series.
Much of the buildup heading into last night’s game focused on how this series would do wonders for this Northeast Divisional rivalry, mission accomplished on that end.
The latest has Paul MacLean’s post-game comments on who exactly was to blame (#61), prompting Brandon Prust to respond with a "He has already shown enough disrespect. I'm not going to worry about what that bug-eyed, fat walrus has to say," bomb.
By now, we’ve all certainly seen the hit and heard the various takes on the legality, intent and sheer brutality of Gryba’s hit on Habs forward Lars Eller. Opinions are pooling faster than the blood Eller left on the ice.
Nevertheless, he’s another look at the video…
*turns head, looks at the computer screen with a winced eye*
Ugh, it’s a brutal, violent hit but it’s also one that was within the parameters of the game… or at least so I thought.
Having had a disciplinary meeting with the NHL’s Director of NHL Player Safety, Brendan Shanahan, TSN’s Bob McKenzie was the first to announce that Eric Gryba has been suspended two games.
It’s a blatant case of the league punishing the result and the optics involved. It’s a case that should have the organization and fans screaming hypocrisy after another hockey play left their Norris Trophy winning defenceman on the sidelines for an extended period of time.
Shanahan’s disciplinary video is still to come, so stay tuned for that…
Late in getting around to this but the NHL finally posted Shanahan's explanation of the decision:
A transcript of the video can be read below:.
Thursday night in Montreal, Ottawa defenceman, Eric Gryba, delivered an illegal check to the head of the Montreal forward, Lars Eller. As the video shows, Gryba is closing in on Eller in anticipation of Eller receiving a pass from his teammate. Just as Eller receives the pass, Gryba delivers an open ice hit. But in doing so, Gryba makes Eller’s head the principal point of contact causing serious injury.
As the Illegal Check to the Head (Rule 48) states:
A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted.
We do not see malicious intent by Gryba on this play.
Eller is eligible to be checked and Gryba does not extend an elbow or launch into the head. However, Gryba’s route is not correct. We do not feel that he makes enough of a full body check for this hit not to qualify as an illegal check to the head.
In our view, in attempting this very difficult check, Gryba does not hit squarely enough through the body. Eller’s head is the principal point of contact and the subsequent contact to Eller’s right shoulder is secondary. It’s important to note that while receiving a pass or carrying a puck anywhere on the ice, a hockey player bears some responsibility to be aware of an impending check. However, since the inception of the current illegal check to the head penalty, no player should expect that his head will be made the principal point of contact – whether intentionally or, as we feel occurs on this play, recklessly.
Further, the pass that Eller received just prior to the check is completely irrelevant to whether or not Gryba delivers a reckless, illegal check to the head. We agree with Gryba’s assertion that he is trying to step up and deliver a clean, hard hit. Taking into account the significant contact to the head, as well as the fact that he does not hit Eller through the body, he simply does not succeed with his attempt to make a legal, hard check.
- This was an illegal check to the head.
- Eller was injured as a result of this hit.
- Gryba has not been fined or suspended during his NHL career.
Eric Gryba has been suspended by the Department of Player Safety for two games.