In Wednesday night’s ‘Rivalry Night’ matchup on NBC Sports Network, Troy Brouwer made a dangerous hit on Derek Stepan. The collision happened early in the third period, with the Rangers leading 2-0 at the Verizon Center.
No penalty was assessed on the play. Referees Chris Rooney and Justin St. Pierre called a tight game, but somehow they missed this one. Brouwer should have at least been whistled for a two-minute interference penalty for the collision. Stepan left the ice and headed directly to the locker room, based on NHL concussion policies:
Stepan said he knew he was fine on the ice but had to go through the concussion protocol.
— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) October 17, 2013
After the hit, there was obvious concern as to the severity of the injury to Stepan. Thankfully, he was able to return to the game, playing a handful of shifts in the third period of the Rangers’ win.
Stepan said that Brouwer spoke to him on the ice, and that the hit was not intentional. Brouwer spoke in the post-game:
“I was at the end of my shift. [Mike] Green had the puck and was pulling it out of our zone. I was going for a change and there was a little incidental contact in the neutral zone. I’m glad to see that he came back and wasn’t seriously hurt. Those can be tough plays and I pride myself on being an honest player and I tried to get out of the way without causing as much damage as possible.”
Stepan chalked it up as all part of the game (via the Washington Post):
“It’s part of the game. It happens. I feel fine so that’s the good thing. Obviously I never saw him coming. I can’t sit here and say if he did one thing or another. It happens, it’s part of the game. He said something to me on the ice that he didn’t see me. I had my back turned, we run into each other. I’m going to with that for now until I look at it and we’ll see what happens from there.”
No Supplementary Discipline
— Katie Carrera (@kcarrera) October 17, 2013
The Department of Player Safety ruled that it was a clean hit, despite the fact that Stepan’s head appeared to be the main point of contact. Per the NHL rulebook:
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.
It’s hard to argue that the main point of contact wasn’t Stepan’s head. The logical conclusion – and it’s a reasonable one – is that the league felt that this was an incidental collision, not an intentional hit.