Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Mayhem of Milan and Miller still echoes days later

Rule 42.1, perhaps the most studied of NHL rules in the last 72 hours, "a goaltender is not fair game just because he is outside goal crease crease area", seems simple enough, though perhaps Ryan Miller might wonder where the bar is when it comes to fair game.

Miller's wanderings of the weekend and the end result of that have been the topic of discussion for the last few days, giving everyone it seems a say into a goaltender's place in the game and whether he is "fair game" when he leaves the sanctuary of the blue ice of his crease.

Some have taken  the side of Lindy Ruff that with the Lucic hit (and the lack of suspension for it) it's now open season on goaltenders in the NHL, others of the old school opinion that if a goaltender leaves his crease then his fate is up in the air (literally it seems).

The collision between Milan Lucic and Ryan Miller, which saw the Bruin bowling over Miller and then staring down the Sabres on the ice is clearly setting the stage for a review of the don't touch policy that some goaltenders believe exists in the NHL today.

Lucic, who clearly is not of that opinion, did not slow down, nor did he try to avoid Miller deep in the Buffalo end of the ice. Instead the collision sent Miller flying and in the end put the Buffalo goaltender onto the Injured list, sending Sabres coach Lindy Ruff into possible sedition territory by questioning whether the NHL has any inclination to protect goaltenders this season.

The collision was reviewed by the NHL"s Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan, who ruled that   owing to a lack of intent on the part of Lucic  the hit was not an offence that would merit further league action, thus, the minor penalty for charging assessed during the game was sufficient with no suspension for Lucic required.

Shanahan did express some disappointment in the Sabres commentary on the topic post game, suggesting that the Sabres complaints were considered out of order among the halls of the NHL head office.

If nothing else, Shanahan too has learned a pretty valuable lesson from the mayhem in the Sabres end of the rink. It's not the suspensions he hands out that seem to anger league GM's, but rather the one's he doesn't hand out that stick in their craw.

Those league GM's who were meeting in Toronto in one of the regular gatherings took some time to discuss the issue of protection for goaltenders and how best to avoid the highlight reel collisions in the future.

Of course, left unsaid in all of the debate was the calling out of the entire Sabres team by Lucic, who post game suggested that had any team run over their goaltender, the result of the night might have looked a little different.

Expressing the kind of bravado that once was the domain of the Big Bad Bruins of days gone by, Lucic seemed to suggest that the Sabres didn't take care of their own goaltender to any fashion, a sin that would never have been allowed on the Bruins bench.

Comments to which, Ryan Miller, concussed as he was, felt the need to address, describing Lucic in most colourful terms as perhaps not the cleanest, nor honourable player to ever lace on a pair of skates and someone who probably doesn't like small animals either.

Thoughts we imagine that will be remembered when the Bruins and Sabres next meet (November 23rd for those looking to set the alerts on their iPhones and such), a game which most likely will have the undivided attention of the NHL's top officials, watchful for some carry over of the nastiness (all of it seemingly Bruin) that has spawned from the Lucic hit.

The incident of Saturday night has provided for many thoughts on the issue of goaltender protection and the need to perhaps review the regulations when it comes to contact on goaltenders, especially considering the importance of that one position to a team's success or failure (hello Toronto, weigh in with some thoughts if you will).

It's an ages old question, whether a goaltender is fair game once outside of his crease, judging by the events of the weekend, it's a question that still has a ways to go in debate.

Below you can review some of the fallout from the hit heard round the league.

Buffalo News-- Miller says teammates "have his back"
Buffalo News-- Miller suffering whiplash, headaches, ...
Buffalo News-- Sabres' Miller has concussion
Buffalo News-- Defending champions bowl over Sabres
Buffalo News-- Postgame thoughts after a wild Sabres day/night
Buffalo News-- On the Sabres beat live chat with John Vogl
Boston Herald-- Ryan Miller says teammates 'have his back"
Boston Herald-- Decision on Milan Lucic no surprise to Claude Julien
Boston Herald-- Non-suspension hits irk NHL GMs
Boston Herald-- Lucic survives hearing
Boston Herald-- Lucic hit on Miller prompts GM's discussion on goaltender safety
Boston Herald-- Sabres G Ryan Miller disappointed in Lucic, NHL
Boston Herald-- Sabres GM wants suspension for Milan Lucic
Boston Globe-- Bruins crash the net
Boston Globe-- Chiarelli talks about meeting with GMs, Shanahan
Boston Globe-- Claude Julien not surprised by Milan Lucic's non-suspension
Globe and Mail-- Goaltenders safety dominates talk at GM meetings
Globe and Mail-- Sabres' Miller airs concerns in aftermath of Lucic hit
Globe and Mail-- Shanahan: Sabres irresponsible for Lucic reaction
Globe and Mail-- Milan Lucic escapes punishment for hit on Ryan Miller
Globe and Mail-- NHL needs to 'find a way to protect' its goalies
Globe and Mail-- Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller out with concussion
National Post-- Sabres livid after Lucic hit on Miller
National Post-- NHL GMs pledge to protect goaltenders after Lucic hit
National Post-- Milan Lucic, Ryan Miller and The Code in crisis
National Post-- Goalie fraternity critical of Lucic hit
National Post-- Milan Lucic avoids suspension for hit on Ryan Miller
Toronto Star-- Protecting goalies leads GMs agenda: "They're like quarterbacks"
Toronto Star-- Protect goalies like QBs, Leaf coach says
Toronto Star-- No suspension for Lucic hit on Miller
Toronto Sun-- Miller disappointed at Lucic ruling
Toronto Sun-- Ruff: Is it open season on goalies?
Toronto Sun-- Lucic has dates with destiny

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