Milan Lucic faced a hearing with NHL discipline guru Brendan Shanahan today, over a hit by Lucic on Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.
Although I was mildly surprised it came to hearing at all, I can totally understand that you have to look at it when a goaltender winds up with a concussion because of it. However, I have watched this play quite a few times, trying to find a reason to suspend Lucic for it, and I just don't see it.
Lucic chips the puck a bit too far ahead of himself, but he is clearly still going for the puck, and was within a reasonable distance. Miller was trying to play the puck at the same time. Now, I have all the respect for Ryan Miller in the world, but why he would come out of his net by a good 15-20 feet to play a puck when a skater is clearly coming after the puck, is beyond me.
True... you see goaltenders come that far out of the crease all the time to play a puck, to keep a power play going or whatever, but it's usually when the other team is making a line change. A goalie worth his salt makes a judgment call as to whether he should play the puck like that. How many times do you see a goaltender come out that far when a guy's coming in on an attempted breakaway?
I think I saw Patrick Roy do it a couple times... and I think we can all agree he's a little bit nuts.
I'm not denying there was a collision. There obviously was. But I don't know how anyone can argue intent when the puck was playable by both players, and hardly a half-second passed from the time Miller played the puck and Lucic hitting him.
It's not like he hit him head-on… and honestly, Miller expects a guy to be able to stop within half second of him playing the puck?
Miller coming that far out of his net with an opposing player bearing down on the puck was -- I'm sorry -- a dumbass move. And unfortunately, he paid for it. Getting a concussion is far worse than getting scored on in this case, because it hurts the team.
The fact is, however, that Miller made a bad call coming out. It's like if a bicyclist in downtown Columbus doesn't stop at a stop light and decides he wants to try and beat crossing traffic. Does he deserve to get hit by a car? Absolutely not. Is he asking for it? Yes.
Despite what Buffalo fans have been proclaiming since the incident, this call by Shanahan is not about goalies being "fair game" if they come out of the net. Lucic does not have any right to intentionally hit Ryan Miller for coming out of the crease. The charging call? Sure. That's legit. It's a "control yourself on the ice" kind of thing... I won't argue that.
The problem in this case… there was no intent. If Miller plays the puck, and Lucic hits him maybe two the three seconds after he plays the puck? Sure, maybe you can argue intent, and Miller can go crying to Brendan Shanahan all he wants. You can argue intent there easily. But this was not the case.
I feel badly for Ryan Miller. I really do. And I'm not saying that he should apologize to Lucic for calling him "gutless" and a "piece of $#!+." Hockey players have pretty thick skin... Lucic is probably over that.
However, this play resulted from a bad gamble on Miller's part, not malice on Lucic's part.
You chalk it up to "$#!+ happens" and move on.
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