THE LAW IS ON KADRI’S SIDE

El­bow tucked, Daniel Sedin crouch­ing to shoot . . . the NHL breaks down why Leaf Nazem Kadri wasn’t sus­pended for hit — the Canucks aren’t buy­ing it.

Toronto Star - - SPORTS - KEVIN MCGRAN SPORTS RE­PORTER

The NHL did not sus­pend the Leafs’ Nazem Kadri for his side-swip­ing hit on Daniel Sedin of the Canucks late in Satur­day night’s game, but the de­ci­sion re­opened the de­bate as to just what is and what is not a head shot.

Kadri blind­sided Sedin, whose hel­met popped off, but that alone is not a rea­son for sup­ple­men­tal dis­ci­pline, the league said. What mat­ters is the main point of con­tact, and the NHL de­ter­mined Kadri lev­elled Sedin with a full body check, not a tar­geted head shot.

“On this play we did not feel the head was the main point of con­tact,” said Damian Echevar­ri­eta, vi­cepres­i­dent of the league’s department of player safety. “We felt it was shoul­der/chest/head and there­fore not an il­le­gal check to the head.”

Sedin scored on the play and then left the game, while Kadri was ejected for charg­ing. That pun­ish­ment was enough for the NHL.

It’s a break for the Maple Leafs, who rely on Kadri to shut down the other team’s best cen­tre while pro­vid­ing of­fence him­self, with four goals in his last five games. The Leafs de­clined com­ment on the rul­ing, but the Canucks weren’t happy.

“We dis­agree with the rul­ing and are very dis­ap­pointed,” said Van­cou­ver GM Jim Ben­ning. “How­ever we must ac­cept it and put it be­hind us.”

Echevar­ri­eta posted a pho­to­graph on Twit­ter to back up the de­ci­sion. It shows: Kadri’s skates on the ice at con­tact; Sedin a bit crouched on the fol­low through of his shot; Kadri’s el­bow tight to his body and below Sedin’s head; Kadri’s shoul­der at Sedin’s head level; con­tact from shoul­der to waist.

The dis­ci­plinar­ian took a fair bit of heat on so­cial me­dia — mainly from up­set Canucks fans, but also from those who say all checks to the head, not just il­le­gal ones, should be banned from the game. He says that’s for the gen­eral man­agers who make the rules to dis­cuss.

“Blind­side hits are not il­le­gal in them­selves,” said Echevar­ri­eta. “If the head isn’t the main point of con­tact, then it doesn’t matter if the hit was east-west, lat­eral, north-south or blind­side.

“We have ac­tu­ally taken the term blind­side out of the rule com­pletely, in 2012, but even while it was in the rule it wasn’t il­le­gal un­less the head was also the main point of con­tact.”

Some pointed to a case last sea­son in which Canucks for­ward Jake Vir­ta­nen was sus­pended two games for a hit on Ro­man Po­lak, then with the Sharks. It was shoul­der-to-shoul­der, no head shot in­volved, but the league de­ter­mined it was late and preda­tory.

Kadri’s hit more re­sem­bles an­other in­ci­dent from last year in which Carolina’s Brad Malone side-swiped Columbus’s Nick Foligno a split-sec­ond after a pass. That was deemed le­gal.

No sus­pen­sion for Nazem Kadri after blind­side check on Daniel Sedin, who scored on the play.

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