Justin Abdelkader ejected for hit on Vladimir Sobotka (Video)

Justin-Abdelkader-Vladmir-SobotkaDetroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader, who is doubling as the Team USA captain at the IIHF World Championship, was ejected on Thursday after laying a vicious hit on Czech Republic’s Vladimir Sobotka. The hit came with the game tied 1-1 in the second period. For whatever reason, it took the officials a little time before making the call.

Abdelkader clearly targeted the head area of Sobotka and left his feet. The hit also appeared to be very late, and you can easily argue that it was dangerous. After Sobotka remained down on the ice while play continued, the referees conferred and decided to give Abdelkader a five-minute major and game misconduct for charging. He was hesitant to leave at first.

The dirty hit may have been a turning point for the Czechs, as they went on to score two goals on the ensuing power play and score a total of three times in the second period en route to a 4-3 victory.

As Eye on Hockey noted, Abdelkader is likely to be suspended for the hit. If he is, the suspension would carry over into any future World Championship games he might be invited to participate in.

Sobotka also plays for the St. Louis Blues. Between the dangerous hit from Abdelkader and an injury to Alex Ovechkin that could be serious, NHL owners must be cringing while watching the IIHF tournament.

GIF via @myregularface

Matt Cooke takes out Tyson Barrie’s knee with dirty hit (Video)

Matt-Cooke-knees-Tyson-BarrieStop me if you’ve heard this before — Matt Cooke is facing a possible suspension for a cheap shot he threw on an opposing player. His latest victim is Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie, who is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with an MCL injury after Cooke took a run at his knee on Monday night.

Cooke tried to hit Barrie well after the puck was gone, and he stuck his knee straight out as Barrie was looking to avoid contact. The end result was a brutal knee-to-knee collision that forced Barrie to leave the game for good. Cooke, a 14-year veteran who is known for being a goon, was assessed a two-minute minor penalty for kneeing.

According to the NHL Player Safety Twitter account, Cooke has been asked to have an in-person hearing with the league for the play. That typically means a suspension of five or more games is on its way, which would not be a surprise considering Cooke’s history of being a dirty player.

The Minnesota Wild went on to win Game 3 to avoid falling into an 0-3 hole. Barrie has emerged as one of the Avalanche’s best puck-moving defenseman this season, so his loss could be huge for this series and beyond.

H/T Eye on Hockey

Jonathan Toews injured by huge hit from Brooks Orpik (Video)

Brooks-Orpik-levels-Jonathan-ToewsChicago Blackhawks nation is holding its collective breath after Jonathan Toews left Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins with what appeared to be an injured left arm. Toews, who has not missed a game this season, was the recipient of a massive hit from Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik in the second period.

Orpik lowered his shoulder and leveled Toews with what appeared to be a clean hit. Some have argued that Orpik, a known big hitter, targeted the head area, but he lowered his shoulder and did not lead with his elbow. Toews skated off under his own power but did not return to the game.

Orpik is not expected to face disciplinary action for the hit.

“There’s no penalty,” he said after the game, according to the Chicago Tribune. “I think that hit happens 10 times a game.”

Toews has racked up 68 points this season and is arguably Chicago’s most important player. The Blackhawks have lost four of their last five games and are not playing their best hockey heading into the postseason. If Toews is forced to miss a significant amount of time, they could be in serious trouble in the first round.

Dion Phaneuf lays out teammate James van Riemsdyk (GIF)

Dion-Phaneuf-hits-James-van-RiemsdykIf James van Riemsdyk did not play for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Dion Phaneuf would probably be facing a fine and/or suspension from the NHL. Phaneuf lowered his shoulder and unloaded on the head and neck area of van Riemsdyk on Tuesday night. Phanuef is van Riemsdyk’s teammate.

Obviously, the hit was an accident. Phaneuf had sized up San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau and missed his target by a significant margin. He leveled van Riemsdyk instead, who had been skating after Marleau in pursuit of the puck.

Van Riemsdyk had to leave the ice after the hit but was later able to return. He has 26 goals and 27 assists this season, so Maple Leaf fans would not have been happy if he was knocked out for an extended period of time by his own teammate. Phaneuf should be breathing a sigh of relief.

GIF via SB Nation

Lars Eller bloodied after brutal open-ice hit from Eric Gryba (Video)

Lars-Eller-bleedingOttawa Senators defenseman Eric Gryba could be facing a suspension from the NHL after delivering a brutal open-ice shot to Montreal Canadiens forward Lars Eller on Thursday night. Eller had his head down looking to receive a pass when Gryba lowered his shoulder and came barreling into him. Gryba’s shoulder wound up hitting Eller in the head and it appeared he smacked his face off the ice.

As you can see, the hit left Eller with a frightening amount of blood pouring from his face. The team later announced that he had suffered head and facial injuries but was alert and awake in the hospital after being taken off the ice on a stretcher. Gryba was assessed a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct.

While it did appear that Eller made the hit worse by slowing up, there’s no denying Gryba lead with his shoulder to the head. The intent didn’t seem to be as blatant as this awful knee-to-knee hit we saw a couple months ago, but it was plenty to warrant a suspension. Chances are Gryba will be sitting out Game 2 on Friday night.

H/T Puck Daddy

Swiss hockey player Ronny Keller paralyzed after hit into board (Video)

Ronny-Keller-paralyzedA terrible tragedy took place during a Swiss hockey game earlier this week, as a player named Ronny Keller was reportedly left paralyzed after a brutal hit that sent him flying head-first into the boards. The play happened during overtime of a Nationalliga B playoff game between Olten and Langenthal.

As you can see from the video above, Keller stopped short a few feet from the boards as he was chasing down a puck when Langenthal’s Stefan Schnyder lowered his shoulder and delivered a hit. The play happened very quickly and Schnyder clearly intended to hit Keller, but I highly doubt he ever envisioned the result that followed.

Keller is currently in the ICU of the Swiss Paraplegic Centre in Nottwill, where the hospital’s chief physician has determined that he has been left paralyzed.

“Following the serious injury of the fourth thoracic vertebra, Ronny Keller will be a permanent paraplegic,” the doctor explained according to Tages Anzeiger. “There is neither head nor brain injuries.”

Schnyder is currently being investigated for any criminal complaint that might be filed against him. The hit could certainly be classified as boarding but, again, I’m sure Schnyder feels horrible about the result. We see massive hits like this all the time in the NHL, but fortunately instances of serious injury and paralysis are very rare. Unfortunately, they are not unheard of.

H/T Puck Daddy

Taylor Hall takes out Cal Clutterbuck’s knee with dirty hit (Video)

Taylor-Hall-hit-Cal-ClutterbuckEdmonton Oilers winger Taylor Hall threw a vicious hit on Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. Hall is awaiting a disciplinary hearing with NHL vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan on Friday afternoon, but there has been no shortage of cries for the 21-year-old to be suspended from those who watched the play live or have seen the replay.

The puck was clearly bouncing away from Clutterbuck, and Hall sized him up and followed through with the collision anyway. It initially looked like a knee-on-knee hit, but upon viewing the replay it appears that Hall did hit Clutterbuck with his hip. However, that simple fact does not make the hit clean.

To me, it appears obvious that Hall at least leaned out and led with his knee — regardless of whether or not it was his knee that made contact with Clutterbuck’s lower body. The play was dangerous, and we’ve seen Shanahan suspend players for far less. Hall has a reputation for being a tough young kid (photo evidence here) and is not known as a dirty player by any means, but the league needs to make an example of him here. Those are the types of plays that shorten careers. There’s no place in hockey for a hit like that.