Toronto Maple Leaf Jerry D’Amigo was lunging for the puck and bent down to extend his reach. Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, who’d already established position, followed through on his check. It would’ve been a solid, clean check from Bortuzzo if D’Amigo was upright. He wasn’t, and D’Amigo’s head made contact with Bortuzzo’s arm.
What do you think? Headshot? Suspension-worthy? Here’s why it shouldn’t be:
Rule 48 – Illegal Check to the Head
48.1 Illegal Check to the Head – A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable is not permitted. In determining whether contact with an opponent’s head was avoidable, the circumstances of the hit including the following shall be considered:
(i) Whether the player attempted to hit squarely through the opponent’s body and the head was not “picked” as a result of poor timing, poor angle of approach, or unnecessary extension of the body upward or outward.
(ii) Whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position by assuming a posture that made head contact on an otherwise full body check unavoidable.
UPDATE: The league just confirmed that it’s not. No supplemental discipline for Bortuzzo.
In looking at Bortuzzo/D'Amigo, we see unavoidable head contact on an otherwise full body hit. Will not be pursuing supplemental discipline.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) December 17, 2013
While it’s good to see suspensions for shots that intentionally target the head, it’s also nice to see them get the calls right when it’s unavoidable to make contact.