Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hit Somebody, or There are now four hockey videos I won't embed

by Ken Houghton

There are moments in sports that are painful to watch. Baseball has Dave Dravecky's arm re-breaking or J.R. Richard's stroke-on-the-playing-field. College basketball has Hank Gathers, while the pros had Kermit Washington's near-fatal punch of Rudy Tomjanovich. Football has Jack Tatum's hit on Darryl Stingley.

Hockey is hardly immune to this. Travis Roy may be our version of Stingley. As described in the Washington Post:
Roy, 28, achieved his dream of playing Division I college hockey when he jumped onto the ice for his first game as a freshman for Boston University in 1995, only to suffer a horrifying head-first crash into the boards just 11 seconds later, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Roy remains confined to a wheelchair, but his optimism is boundless and his spirits especially high with an unprecedented four days of hockey unfolding at the Fleet Center.

Not something anyone wants to think about, but I wouldn't hesitate to embed the YouTube clip if I had it. It was a clean hit, and is remembered now for the same reason that Ray Chapman is remembered: it's unexpected, not malicious, and the result is entirely out of proportion to what one would reasonably expect.

That said, and given this post, there are three hockey videos I would never embed:
  1. Clint Malarchuk's throat getting slashed by a skate. Google tells me that one is on YouTube, and it's an amazing video. If you ever wanted to know why goalies wear neck protection:
    The notable incident occurred during a game on March 22, 1989 between the visiting St. Louis Blues and Malarchuk's Buffalo Sabres. Steve Tuttle of the Blues and Uwe Krupp of the Sabres collided at the mouth of the goal, and Tuttle's skate caught Malarchuk on the neck, slicing open his external carotid artery. With pools of blood collecting on the ice, Malarchuk somehow left the ice under his own power with the assistance of his team's trainer, Jim Pizzutelli. Many spectators were physically sickened by the sight with seven fainting and two suffering heart attacks while two teammates vomited on the ice [1] [2]. Local television cameras covering the game instantly cut away from the sight of Malarchuk....

    After Malarchuk's injury, the NHL instituted a policy requiring all goalies to wear neck protection.

    I've seen the video, which is yet another reason it's not possible to take The 300 seriously.

  2. Bertuzzi on Steve Moore. I trust no more need be said.

  3. Marty McSorley attempting to behead Donald Brashear. I honestly don't believe there is another way to describe the actual action (slow-motion replay at 54 seconds). Wikipedia understates the description:
    During the February 21, 2000 Vancouver-Boston game, when Brashear played for Vancouver, Marty McSorley struck Brashear in the side of his head with his stick. Brashear fell to the ice, his head bounced, and his unsecured helmet flew off. Brashear's suffered from a grade 3 concussion and memory lapses. He returned to play after several weeks and has fully recovered.

    Brashear testified he has no memory of what happened. Marty McSorley was found guilty of assault with a weapon but wasn't sent to jail. He had to complete 18 months of probation, in which he could not play against Brashear. McSorley claims that he tried to hit Brashear in the shoulder to start a fight with him and didn't mean to hit his head.

    McSorley never played in the league again.

    And now there is a fourth:

  4. Isles' Simon ejected for hitting Rangers' Hollweg
    Just seconds before he was hit, Hollweg drove Simon into the boards with a hard, clean check. Simon got up angrily and met Hollweg as they came together again. He then swung his stick into Hollweg's face, just above his neck.


    Simon spent Friday afternoon being examined by a doctor. He appeared to be shaken up on the hit by Hollweg into the boards. An injury could prevent Simon from flying to Toronto, where disciplinary hearings are commonly held....

    Simon's hit...flattened Hollweg with 6:31 remaining and left him motionless for several minutes in the Rangers' zone.

    Swung is a rather-too-nice term (the original check at 1:37; Simon's "response" follows, roughly at 1:41)

Don't get me wrong; both Simon and Hollweg, like Brashear and McSorley before them, are enforcers, so it's not necessarily a mismatch, in the way that, say, Tie Domi cold-cocking Scott Niedermayer with his elbow in the 2000 Playoffs, or Dale Hunter on Pierre Turgeon, or several of the other gems captured here are.

But that doesn't make it any less evil, and the league has acted appropriately in suspending Simon for at least 25 games.

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While this was a gruesome idea for a blog post, I can't resist adding a couple couple more:

Brian Berard getting his eye impaled by an errant swinging stick:

(After this incident, Berard initially said he'd refuse to wear a visor if he was able to return to hockey, and supported the league continuing to allow visor-less play.)

Fringe pro Trent McCleary taking a slap-shot to the throat at point-blank range. Indicative of the expectation and glorification of zealous overcommitment in competitive team sports, Jim Rome effusively praised McCleary and hockey players in general for being the type of people who almost get killed on the ice, and still try to struggle back to the bench to make their line change.
Hard to watch sports injuries.

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