This is the latest brutal hit that is being talked about in the hockey world, and the first of this year being that it is still pre-season.
From the footage I’ve seen, it could be a tough call in my opinion. Granted, it may only be a tough call if you judge strictly by the rules. But for arguments sake and from what I’ve seen, Steve Downie didn’t leave his feet before the hit. Of course doing so is a no-no. Was it a late hit? Maybe. Was he going too fast? No.
This is the NHL, you’re dealing with the top 2% hockey players in the entire world – competition is extremely tight. A rookie needs to show incredible potential in order to secure a career in the NHL. This might explain what I would consider to be overzealousness on Downie’s part. Being overzealous is not against the rules though, on the contrary it is encouraged just as finishing your hits and playing the man.
There is almost an unspoken rule regarding hits and the pre-season. There aren’t many big hits during the pre-season, everyone kind of takes it a little easy. But hockey keeps evolving just as it always has. Just as the days of bench clearing brawls are over, so might be the days of an easy pre-season.
While I’m not necessarily defending the hit and am glad to hear McAmmond is doing good, I could easily see why the hit would be debatable. However, a near career ending hit is always hard to take lightly.
My guess is that Downie will be punished rather severely like we’ve seen from some of the more intentional, brutal, dangerous, and widely publicized hits in the past. I don’t think he will be banned for life or anything, just similar to other hits in the past that were not debatable. It may be months and a lot of dollars before Downie is playing again, but I would bet he’ll be back.