Vancouver’s Tyler Myers has avoided supplemental discipline for a dangerous hit on Montreal’s Joel Armia.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety opted not to take action after the high, hard hit saw Myers ejected for an Illegal Check to the Head during Friday’s game in Vancouver. Montreal Canadiens forward Joel Armia suffered a concussion on the play, which came with 2:28 remaining in an eventual 7-3 Habs win.
Player Safety issued a video discussing the play.
From NHL Player Safety:
“[This hit] did not violate the illegal check to the head rule. It is important to note that the Illegal Check to the Head rule contains two required aspects.”
“First, the head must be the main point of the contact of the hit. That is to say, the head must absorb the brunt of the impact of the the hit.
“Once that is established, we move on to the second aspect of the rule: the head contact must be avoidable. That means that the player delivering a hit could have delivered the hit legally while not making the head the main point of contact, but instead picked the head through poor angle of approach, poor timing, or unnecessary extension of his body.”
Player Safety then broke down the ruling into those two components.
“While there is head contact on this play, the head is not the main point of contact. Myers hits through Armia’s core, making substantial contact with Armia’s chest and right shoulder. Armia’s head and body are propelled backwards in unison as he falls to the ice. On most plays where the head is the main point of contact, we see the head moving independently in the same direction as the player’s body. That head snap, as we have previously described it, is an excellent indicator that head has absorbed more force than the rest of the body. Here’s the video evidence shows that this is a full body check with some head contact.
“Second, even though the head was deemed not to be the main point of contact, we believe this is unavoidable head contact as defined by Rule 48.”
“This aspect of the rule was written specifically to ensure that players stepping up to deliver full body checks through their opponent’s core would not be penalized if there was no way to deliver the hit without making contact with an opponent’s head.”
That last comment is an interesting one. For those looking to reduce or eliminate head contact, that’s the clause to focus on. It’s implicitly giving a player permission to deliver a check that includes head contact.
“I didn’t like the hit from Myers. [Armia] didn’t see him coming,” Canadiens head coach Claude Julien said after the game. “It’s an elbow that seemed high. I think the refs reacted well giving him a [match] penalty… but I didn’t like the hit – especially with 2:28 to go in a 6-3 game.”
“We’re trying to clean these types of hits out of the NHL,” Julien added.
At risk of advocating for change here, if someone were to actively look to eliminate these types of hits, that portion of the rule is a good place to start.
Here’s the section of Rule 48.1 in question.
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.
Back to the league’s explanation:
“On this play, Myers moves in front of Armia and steps up into him to ensure contact is made through the body, rather than just picking the head.”
“In addition, while Myers’s body appears to come up slightly as part of a natural hitting motion, this is not an example of a player unnecessarily extending upwards to pick the head of an opponent. On almost every body check, a player’s natural hitting motion involves some measure of upward momentum into the hit, which is allowable, provided it’s not excessive.”
“This is a legal, full body check with an unfortunate result.”
Whether you agree or disagree with the lack of supplemental disciplinary action, it’s great to see Player Safety addressing the hit — especially since it received a match penalty during the game.
Player Safety followed the letter of the law with regard to the rule book.
Don’t like the call? It’s the rule book – not Player Safety – that is the issue.