Colorado defenseman Nikita Zadorov crushed Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele with a big open ice hit during Saturday’s game between the Avalanche and Jets.
Referees Ghislain Hebert and Francis Charron gave Zadorov a minor for charging. No further punishment is expected on the play, per a league source.
“I saw him with his head down and I just tried to put on the brakes and tried to step up,” Zadorov told the Denver Post. “I think I caught him cleanly. Good thing he didn’t get injured. I don’t want to see him injured, but it’s a hockey play.”
Player Safety will likely agree. It was a punishing hit, but one where the head was not the main point of contact.
“I thought he was outstanding,” said Avs coach Jared Bednar. “Not just one big hit but two or three.”
While Player Safety might deem it a clean hit, the Winnipeg Jets were none too happy about the play. Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba went after Zadorov after the hit, picking up an instigator penalty. Trouba and Zadorov both went off for fighting, despite the Avs defenseman not throwing a punch or even dropping the gloves.
Zadorov talked to Terry Frei of the the Denver Post about the fight.
“I would fight him if I turned,” Zadorov said. “He jumped me from behind and I went down right away. Next time, I’m going to be aware where the guys are. I’m going to turn and fight him. I have no problem to fight anyone who wants to challenge me. It’s not like how it’s been 10 years ago, like after every hit you have to fight, right? Some guys on the team, they have to step up. I think Trouba did a good job. If (Duchene) got the same hit, I would do the same thing, I would jump the guy. It’s part of the game, you have to protect your players, you have to protect your best players and Scheifele is one of their best players.”