During Thursday night's Red Wings-Avalanche game, Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall was the victim of a violent hit by Colorado's Cody McLeod. Kronwall was smashed into the boards face first on an illegal check by McLeod and lay motionless on the ice before being stretchered off. McLeod was assessed a game misconduct and was ejected. Kronwall was diagnosed with a concussion in a situation that could have actually been worse.
Not knowing the severity of Kronwall's injuries at the time, the following soundbyte from the home Avalanche broadcast still sounds pretty ugly. Listen to the reaction of play by play man Mike Haynes as he erupts after the hit and says Kronwall got what was coming to him:
Is it really appropriate to talk about a guy "getting his own medicine" when he's laying motionless on the ice? Even analyst Peter McNab can tell right away that the McLeod hit is a bad one. It's true that Kronwall has made a name for himself by delivering huge hits, but he's never been suspended by the NHL as far as I can tell. (Someone with more hockey knowledge can correct me if I'm wrong.)
Knowing that Kronwall was hurt by an illegal hit certainly takes some of the starch out of this call. It's a sign of the fine line that's walked nightly in the NHL – do you celebrate big checks or not? With the speed of the game, it could be a split second decision between a legal hit and an illegal one. Players can be seriously injured on both.
Concussions have been largely focused on the NFL in recent months, but awareness for these injuries have to be raised in the NHL as well. And all sports for that matter. Perhaps everyone in hockey has to learn to show more restraint than in the past when it comes to hits like these.