In today’s NHL, there are plenty of big hits. Many of those big hits will result in players being a little shaken up or being injured. When a player does not get up right away, it is almost a guarantee that there will be a skirmish. These also vary in degree, usually depending on who is on the ice. It does not matter to the players if it was a clean or dirty hit; the reaction is always the same. The mentality is something that needs to change in the NHL.
A lot of people are big fans of seeing their team standing up for a fallen teammate, but is this really the best way to get back at the other team? By throwing a few half-hearted punches with your gloves on and then sitting in the penalty box for two minutes?
Of course, this situation sounds a lot like the one that transpired in the third period of the game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Buffalo Sabres. Everyone has seen the hit that was dished out by Jake McCabe on Patrik Laine and the fight that ensued after it. It was followed by Mark Scheifele going after McCabe and getting a few good shots in on him.
Some people may see this as the right thing to do, as their star rookie had just been hurt. On the other hand though, it did not make sense for that to happen in the game situation at that point. Scheifele is arguably the best offensive threat on the Jets and he took himself out of the game for two minutes in the third period while being down 4-3. Having a player of that caliber being in the penalty box in a one-goal game is not an ideal situation. The Jets would go on to lose the game.
Those types of situations are not the only problems with these retaliatory plays.
Take for instance the hit from behind on Denis Malgin from Pavel Zacha. It was an illegal play and it made sense that someone would go after him for it. Except there were a few problems with the play.
After getting hit, Malgin was lying on the ice and everyone stormed over to get a piece of Zacha. Malgin’s own teammates did not seem to care that they were crashing into their injured teammate. This is something that we seem to be seeing more of in the NHL these days and it’s incredibly dangerous for the player that is already injured.
Another problem is that Zacha was already getting a five minute major for the play, and by getting a penalty in retaliation it will even out and reduce the time on the power play.
There is a really good way to get back at a team or a player that has done wrong by you and that is to go out and win that hockey game. It seems simple, but it would be much more effective. The injured player would probably much rather see his team win the hockey game than see them all going to the penalty box.
Retaliation is something that will be around for a long time. It has always been a part of hockey culture. Although, it would be smarter to get them back where it hurts the most. With the win.