Update: Drake Caggiula suspended one game by the NHL.
Good Day! It’s August, and the Stanley Cup playoffs have begun. This past week, after taking almost a four-month hiatus, the NHL moved to the bubble in Toronto and Edmonton. It took one day of playoff hockey to have our first tweet from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
After one day of play, former University of North Dakota All-American hockey player Drake Caggiula heads to the principal’s office.
What did Caggiula do to earn a hearing? See the embedded video below. Caggiula’s illegal check to the head of Edmonton Oilers forward Tyler Ennis. Keep in mind, Caggiula wasn’t penalized, and Ennis received a two-minute minor for delay of game. Yeah, that seems random. It will be interesting to see what kind of punishment Caggiula gets.
In four seasons with the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks, Caggiula has played in 222 NHL games scoring 35 goals and 76 points. He’s also a minus-18. As far as I can tell, Caggiula has never had a hearing with the Department of Player Safety.
What About These?
If Caggiula deserves a hearing for his hit on Ennis, why weren’t these two hits worthy of a review? (See embedded videos below) After a four-month hiatus, nothing has changed. There’s still a lot of inconsistency in how the game is officiated.
Exhibit A. Las Vegas forward Ryan Reaves makes significant head contact with former UND forward Nick Schmaltz. Ouch!
Exhibit B. Panthers d-man Mike Matheson hits New York Islanders d-man Johnny Boychuck in the head with a forearm. For his efforts, Matheson received a two-minute minor penalty for contact to the head.
Something to Think About
There have been a few hockey pundits that have made the argument that all hits to the head should be worthy of a penalty like the IIHF rule. I am not there yet, but you can read the IIHF rules for Checking to the Head or Neck. What do you think?
Definition. There is no such thing as a clean check to the head. A player who directs a hit of any sort, with any part of his body or equipment, to the head or neck of an opposing player or drives or forces the head of an opposing player into the protective glass or boards. This rule supersedes all similar actions regarding hits to the head and neck except those related to fighting.
1. A player who directs a hit to the head or neck of an opponent will be assessed a minor and misconduct penalty.
2. A player who directs a hit to the head or neck of an opponent may also be assessed either a major and automatic game-misconduct penalty or a match penalty.
3. A penalty for checking to the head or neck will be assessed if one of the following occurs when a player checks an opponent:
1) The player directs a hit with any part of his body or equipment to the head or neck of an opponent;
2) The player drives or forces the head of an opponent into the protective glass or boards by using any part of his upper body;
3) The player extends and directs any part of his upper body to make contact with the head or neck of an opponent;
4) The player extends his body upward or outward in order to reach his opponent or uses any part of the upper body to make contact with an opponent’s head or neck;
5) The player jumps (leaves his skates) to deliver a blow to the head or neck of an opponent.
4. If a skater skates with his head up, is in possession of the puck, and is expecting a bodycheck, an opponent does not have the right to hit him in the head or neck.
5. If the primary force of a blow is initially to the body area and then contact slides up to the head or neck area, a penalty for checking to the head or neck will not be assessed.
6. A skater who delivers a bodycheck to an opponent who is skating with the puck with his head down in the direction of the skater, and does not use an upward motion or drive his body up into the opponent, will not be penalized for checking to the head or neck.
7. If a skater maintains his position in the normal course of game action as an opponent runs into him, the ensuing contact will not be considered checking to the head or neck unless conditions in Rules 124-3 or 124-4 are violated.