After Game 3 in Chicago on Friday night, the talk of the hockey world was on Niklas Kronwall’s hit on Chicago forward Martin Havlat at 13:08 in the opening frame of the contest. Everyone from bloggers, media pundits, fans, players and coaches were talking about the hit and the impact the consequential penalties (5 minutes and a game misconduct) had on the game’s outcome. Today, we’re going to break down what each party is saying following the controversial hit and call.
Immediately following the game, Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville talked to the media about the hit in the post-game press conference: “It’s a dangerous hit when you haven’t touched the puck. It was a hard hit. A dangerous hit when you still haven’t touched it.”
He did not specifically address the hit and consequent call following Saturday’s practice, but did talk about hits to the head: “I know that we want intensity, we want physical play. We like to see big hits in games. At the same time, you know, injuries sometimes take that away, the type of hits you look at.”
Mike Babcock addressed the hit in Saturday’s post-practice press conference:
“I guess to me, you hit the guy in the head, you hang out your elbow, hit the guy in the head, you’re headhunting for him, like when he’s… But that to me is not what I saw there.So, now, good thing about it is you’re asking a biased guy. I heard Joel Quenneville talk about it. What he does is he comes in, whether he believes it or not, he tells you what he’s got to tell you. I actually believe what I’m telling you. It’s the facts.I mean, I went over it a hundred times. Before I came in here, I wanted to see did he leave his feet. Kroner, what he does, usually he’s got so much pop in him, he explodes through the guy. At the end of the check when he’s done, he’s off the ice. That wasn’t the case here at all in the situation.”
Detroit defenseman Brian Rafalski had this to say after Game 3: “I haven’t seen a replay of it yet, but everyone that has said anything to me has said it was a clean hit.”
“I thought it was a clean hit. I haven’t seen a replay. I was on the ice and heard their bench yelling ‘heads up, heads up’ and Kronner stepped up and hit him,” Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg said following Game 3.
In response to Brian Campbell calling his hit gutless, Niklas Kronwall said, “Everyone has the right to their own opinion. I think people that know me know that I never really try to hurt anyone out there. I tried to make a hit, of course, and it’s unfortunate that he got hurt…I really hope he is okay and is back as soon as possible.”
“They are going to say and do what they can to try and motivate themselves and kind of paint the picture over there for them. Like I said if it is a suspendable play, obviously he got a five in the game and the league is going to look at it and they’ll do accordingly. From my standpoint and from anyone I’ve seen or talked to that watched the game and saw the hit, everyone didn’t even think it warranted a penalty let alone a suspension,” Detroit forward Kirk Maltby said.
Graham Couch of the Kalamazoo Gazette believes that this hit will change the tone of the series, encouraging more physical play from both squads. Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press talked to members of the Wings and they all thought the hit was clean. MLive.com’s Ansar Khan writes that Babcock does not expect the league to suspend Kronwall and was surprised that two coaches could see one hit and call so differently. The Detroit Free Press’ Steve Schrader caught reaction of the hit and call from the commentators on CBC, who called the hit a thing of beauty. Brian Costello blogs for The Hockey News that the Wings “absolutely got jobbed” with the call on Kronwall’s hit. ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun described it as “a clean but vicious hit.”
A comment left at Kukla’s Korner includes a screencap of the hit and points out some key parts about the hit, which you can also view below.
Matt Saler at On the Wings was quite unhappy with the call and wrote that it “in effect pretty much spotted the Hawks their lead.” Puck Daddy debates what penalty should have been called on the hit. James Mirtle at From the Rink believes there should have been a minor penalty, but nothing more. His blog has a poll going asking for readers opinions on the call. Fifth Feather had this to say about it from the perspective of a Hawks’ fan: “With my rose-colored Hawks glasses on, yes. As an objective observer, no. But I thought the referees absolutely made the right call by giving him the game misconduct. If they don’t give him the boot at that point, there’s a very good chance this game turns into World War III.”