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Is Steve Downie’s hit on Roman Josi suspendable?

Roman Josi

Oct 4, 2013


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Nashville lost to the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 on Friday night, but the main story of the game was not on the scoreboard, but instead an incident during the second period.

Halfway into the second period, Nashville was trailing Colorado 2-0. Colorado’s Matt Duchene skated the puck into the Nashville zone, but was quickly knocked off of it as the puck trickled back to the end boards. Nashville’s Roman Josi then recovered the puck and, as he turned to take it up ice, Colorado’s Steve Downie came barreling in and mowed Josi over.

You can judge for yourself by watching the following video, but it appears that Downie’s skates left the surface of the ice before his left shoulder made contact with Josi’s head.

Rule 48.1 defines an illegal check to the head as a “hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted. However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was avoidable, can be considered.” The key point to note here is the “otherwise legal body check” portion of the rule. Josi’s head may have been down shortly before the hit came. However, as Downie appears to leave the surface of the ice prior to the hit, which would be a charging penalty under rule 42.1.

Downie actually was assessed a minor charging penalty on the play. However, according to the NHL’s scoring, Downie’s penalty was for charging Gabriel Bourque and not for the hit on Josi. Josi did not return to the game due to an upper-body injury. For Josi and Nashville, it is a scary situation considering that Josi already has at least two documented concussions.

It’s also worth taking into account that Downie has a history of suspensions:

Should Steve Downie receive supplementary discipline from the league for his hit on Josi?

Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua