The 10 Dirtiest Hits of the 2013 NHL Season

May 8, 2013

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Cross checks, flying elbows, knee-on-knee collisions: There's nothing nice about playing the fastest game on ice.

Still, despite the lockout-shortened NHL season and league-imposed suspensions and fines, the vicious hits just keep on coming.

League disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan handed out 47 games' worth of suspensions in 2013. And that's not including the 13 games served by Raffi "Rampage" Torres, which carried over from the 2012 season.

Here, we blow the whistle on the 10 nastiest hits that warranted "Shanabans" this NHL season.

1. Harry Zolnierczyk Blows Up Mike Lundin

Game: Ottawa Senators @ Philadelphia Flyers (3/2/13)

The Play: Ottawa Senators defenseman Mike Lundin carries the puck up through the neutral zone and enters Flyers territory before getting absolutely blown up by Flyers forward Harry Zolnierczyk.

Official Statement by League Disciplinarian Brandon Shanahan: ”Instead of delivering a hard, legal check, [Zolnierczyk] launches prior to the check, making significant contact to Lundin’s head…No player should expect that his opponent should launch will launch upward, off the ice, and into his head.”

Penalty: 5-Minute Major-Charging; 10-Minute Game Misconduct

Suspension: 4 Games; Zolnierczyk forfeited $12,972.96 in salary

Flyers Head Coach Peter Laviolette: ”When you look at it, Harry didn’t do anything wrong. When he was lining up he didn’t take strides, everything was down, his arms were down. The impact just made a lot of noise. Sometimes the hits that make a lot of noise get looked at. It appeared going into the hit that everything was in check.” (via nj.com) 

2. Patrick Kaleta Cross Checks Brad Richards From Behind

Game: Buffalo Sabres @ New York Rangers (3/3/13)

The Play: New York Rangers forward Brad Richards retrieves the puck of the side board in the Buffalo zone and is checked from behind and into the boards by Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta.

Penalty: 5-Minute Major-Checking from Behind; 10-Minute Game Misconduct

League Statement: ”In spite of the fact that Kaleta doesn’t shove Richards with great force, he does so at a dangerous distance from the boards. Richards does not turn his back just prior, or make any sudden movements that contributes to this illegal check. Kaleta is in full control of this play and has ample opportunity to make a better decision.”

Suspension: 5 Games; Kaleta forfeited $76,219.25 in salary

Richards: ”That’s just stupidity. If we’re all going to look at each other’s numbers, ram each other from behind headfirst into the boards, it’s going to be a tough game to play. It’s not hockey.” (via Buffalo News) 

3. Taylor Hall Knee-to-Knee Collision

Game: Minnesota Wild @ Edmonton Oilers (2/21/13)

The Play: Edmonton Oilers young gun Taylor Hall dishes out a brutal knee-on-knee hit at center ice on unsuspecting Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild.

League Statement: ”Aside from the knee contact itself, one of the contributing factors that elevates this kneeing penalty to a suspension, is the fact that at no point does Clutterbuck control the puck, have possession of the puck, or have any reasonable expectation of contact in this situation.”

Penalty: 5-Minute Major-Kneeing; 10-Minute Game Misconduct

Suspension: 2 Games; Hall forfeited 9,729.72 in salary

Hall: ”I could have hit him in the head. I didn’t really want to bury him.” [via Puck Daddy]

4. Eric Gryba Illegal Check to Head of Lars Eller

Game: Ottawa Senators @ Montreal Canadiens, NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, Round 1/Game 1 (5/2/13)

The Play: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Rafael Diaz breaks the puck out of the defensive zone and sends a hospital pass up the center of the ice to forward Lars Eller. Eric Gryba of the Ottawa Senators anticipates the play, steps up just to the blue line, and delivers a jarring, open-ice hit to an unsuspecting Eller.

Shanahan: ”We do not see malicious intent by Gryba on this play. Eller is eligible to be checked and Gryba does not extend an elbow or launch into the head. However, Gryba’s route is not correct and we do not believe that he makes enough of a full-body check for this hit not to qualify as an illegal check to the head.”

Penalty: 5-Minute Major-Interference; 10-Minute Game Misconduct

Suspension: 2 Games

Gryba: ”I stepped up to make a hit and I kept my shoulder down. He received the puck. My elbow was down. There was no intent to hurt him whatsoever and I hope he’s going to be OK.” [via CBC Sports]

5. Corey Perry Late Hit on Jason Zucker

Game: Anaheim Ducks @ Minnesota Wild (3/12/13)

The Play: Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker reverses the puck up the boards in the offensive zone and is blindsided by Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry.

League Statement: ”It is perfectly reasonable that Zucker should no longer expect to hit this long after possession…Perry has enough time to avoid this violent check, or at the very least, minimize it more significantly.”

Penalty: 5-Minute Major-Interference; 10-Minute Game Misconduct

Suspension: 4 Games; Perry forfeited $115, 135.12 in salary

Perry: ”I didn’t change my path of direction. I was committed. I tried to let up. It’s hard. It happened so fast. It’s unfortunate.” [USA Today via Orange County Register]

6. Anton Volchenkov Elbow to the Head of Brad Marchand

Game: Boston Bruins @ New Jersey Devils (4/10/13)

The Play: Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand is along the wall in pursuit of a rimmed puck in the offensive zone. Instead of making an attempt to play the loose puck, New Jersey Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov curls toward Marchand, extends and drives his left elbow into Marchand’s head.

League Statement: ”Volchenkov is in control of this play and is fully responsible for the outcome. He sees Marchand clearly, and if anything, Marchand’s actions just prior to contact force Volchenkov to extend his elbow even further.”

Penalty: 5-Minute Major-Elbowing; 10-Minute Game Misconduct

Suspension: 4 Games; Volchenkov forfeited $91,891.88 in salary

Volchenkov: ”It’s tough. But the rules are the rules. But at the same time, I didn’t really try to hit him [in the head]. It was an accident. An accident for both of us.” [via nesn.com]

7. Ryan White Illegal Hit to Head of Kent Huskins

Game: Philadelphia Flyers @ Montreal Canadiens (4/15/13)

The Play: Montreal Canadiens forward Ryan White crashes from the high slot and delivers a glancing blow with his shoulder to the head of Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kent Huskins.

League Statement: ”As White approaches Huskins, his timing and his route are off, and instead of making a legal, full-body check, he recklessly picks Huskins’ head with his shoulder, making it the principle point of contact.”

Penalty: 10-Minute Match Penalty for Deliberate Injury

Suspension: 5 Games; White forfeited $18,581.10 in salary

8. Justin Abdelkader Takes a Run at Toni Lydman

Game: Anaheim Ducks @ Detroit Red Wings, NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, Round 1/Game 3 (5/4/13)

The Play: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman pulls out of the corner and brings the puck to his forehand when Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader, charging into the corner with a full head of steam, catches Lydman in the trolley tracks and leaves his feet upon contact.

League Statement: ”Abdelkader skates a considerable distance and…elevates at contact, turning what could’ve been a hard, full-body check into a high, violent check with significant contact to the head that caused an injury.”

Penalty: 5-Minute Major-Charging; 10-Minute Game Misconduct

Suspension: 2 Games

Abdelkader: ”I play a hard game. I play physical. I’m going to still play my physical game, get in on the forecheck, finish checks, but I’ve got to be smart about it. The speed of the game, it happens so fast. It’s unfortunate what happened.” [via MLive.com]

9. Andrew Ference Illegal Check to the Head of Mikhail Grabovski

Game: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Boston Bruins, NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, Round 1/Game 1 (5/1/13)

The Play: Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference and Toronto Maple Leafs F Mikhail Grabovski chase a loose puck in the corner of the Leafs zone. After playing the puck on his backhand, Ference lunges and delivers a left elbow to Grabovski’s head.

League Statement: ”Although Grabovski is bent over in his pursuit of the puck, he does not change the positioning of his head just prior to or simultaneous with contact in any way that contributes to this illegal check to the head. That puts the onus on Ference to avoid this forceful contact entirely. Or at the very least, hit Grabovski squarely through the body.”

Penalty: No penalty assessed

Suspension: 1 Game

Ference: ”It’s a decision the league makes. As a player, you deal with it. As far as having a public opinion, I don’t think it benefits any player to express any opinion about it.” [via The Washington Post]

10. John Erskine Open-Ice Elbow on Wayne Simmonds

Game: Philadelphia Flyers @ Washington Capitals (2/1/13)

The Play: Washington Capitals defenseman John Erskine mishandles a D-to-D pass inside the blue line of the Philadelphia Flyers zone and steps up in an attempt to regain possession of the puck. Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds gets his stick on the puck and directs it to the boards. Erskine, realizing he’s already beat on the play, resorts to a last-ditch effort to prevent an odd-man rush and throws a flying right elbow at the head of Simmonds.

League Statement: ”As the two men approach the puck, Erskine looks up and clearly is aware of Simmonds’ proximity before delivering the illegal hit. While we acknowledge there was no malicious intent and that Erskine was reacting to getting beat, this nevertheless was a reckless elbow to the head that caused a serious injury.”

Penalty: No penalty assessed

Suspension: 3 Games; Erskine forfeited $24,324.33 in salary

Erskine: ”I don’t think it was a reckless play or a reckless elbow. I wasn’t flying down the ice a hundred miles an hour with my elbow up in the air.” [via Washington Post]

Topics: HOCKEY | NEWS
Zac Clark
- Zac Clark is STACK Media's Custom Content Manager. Prior to joining STACK in September 2008, he served as an editorial assistant for USA Hockey Magazine...
Zac Clark
- Zac Clark is STACK Media's Custom Content Manager. Prior to joining STACK in September 2008, he served as an editorial assistant for USA Hockey Magazine...
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