January 21, 2011

When Is An Injury Caused By An Accident? Never In The NHL

Caps’ Steckel can’t duck Crosby hit
"Contrary to popular belief, I feel like it was incidental," [David] Steckel said. "I didn’t see him. I didn’t look. That’s a tough instance. To look back now and be like, 'Well, I’m going to get suspended for a head hit when I had no idea …' "
I'd have to agree with this. I didn't watch the game, but I did watch the hit. Sidney Crosby was clearly looking elsewhere when Steckel innocently clipped him. And yes, it was innocent. Steckel's listed at 6'5" while Crosby's listed at 5'11". It's completely believable that Steckel didn't see him.

Those of us who play sports, we all know how it goes. People constantly clip one another between plays when they're leaving the playing surface or repositioning themselves for the start of action. Sometimes clipping someone's deliberate - to send a message that you're keeping an eye someone, or that you're not impressed.

But most of the time, it's not at all deliberate. You might see someone out the corner of your eye, and then accidentally run into them, but you keep on going and don't think anything of it. It happens all the time, and the Steckel-Crosby thing was just another instance of that. It just ended up being a freak accident because of the height difference.

Crosby was clearly concussed because of that collision. The guy could barely stand immediately afterwards, and I've seen him take harder hits - high hits - without much affect. He exacerbated it by playing against Tampa Bay. I don't think Victor Hedman's hit had anything to do with that, frankly. Though I do find it ironic that Hedman's also about the same size as Steckel - he's listed at 6'6".

So for Crosby to point fingers at others is rather ridiculous. I realize that there's this victim culture within the NHL; that's it's never the player's fault if he gets injured, but it's always the other guy's and it's always deliberate. But seriously, accidents and freak things happen all the time, especially in hockey. And that's what the Steckel hit was - an accident. Just accept that and move on.

I bet if you put together an injury matrix and lined up heights with injuries suffered, that you'd have a correlation between short guys getting injured more than the tall guys. I mean, how many high sticks has Marty St. Louis taken to the face versus Zdeno Chara? Position played would probably figure into that as well. Like goalies with groin problems versus the skaters. It'd be an interesting study, but not one that I'm sure I'd want to delve into any time soon.

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