Evidence Evaluation: Marian Hossa's Hit on Dan Hamhuis vs. Alex Ovechkin's Hit on Brian Campbell

 

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A great deal is being made about Marian Hossa's hit on Nashville's Dan Hamhuis from late in the third period of Sunday's epic Game Five victory for the Blackhawks. For the hit, Hossa received a five-minute boarding penalty, which encompassed the final 1:03 of regulation and subsequently the first 3:57 of the overtime period.</p>

Many fans (not this one), analysts (Pierre McGuire, Barry Melrose), and coaches (Barry Trotz) are comparing the Hossa hit to the one Alexander Ovechkin put on Chicago's Brian Campbell in mid-March.

The emphasis from most complaints is that, if Ovechkin was suspended for two games for his hit on Campbell, shouldn't Hossa be suspended for hitting Hamhuis?

There are a number of crucial differences that make the hits of Hossa and Ovechkin overwhelmingly different. Let's evaluate the evidence.

First, the Ovechkin hit on Campbell:

Next, the Hossa hit on Hamhuis:

Intially, it appears that these are two relatively similar hits. In fact, considering at face value that Ovechkin received a game misconduct for his hit on Campbell, it might become easy to question whether or not Hossa was underpenalized. However, that consideration is not only invalid, but laughable. Let's begin our argument by stating the elephant in the room: Ovechkin was a repeat offender. He had been called for an ugly boarding penalty earier in the 2009-10 season, and had been suspended already this season for a knee-to-knee hit. Contrary to that track record, Hossa's resume has had many Chicago fans begging for him to be more physical. He's had a few big hits in this series, but the rest of the season hasn't seen a lot of heavy contact from Hossa. The reality that Ovechkin was a repeat offender must be part of any discussion about these two penalties. Secondly, let's look at the points of contact. First, Ovechkin on Campbell:

As you can see here, Ovechkin's arms are making contact with the back of Campbell. His arm is nearly touching the "5" on the back of Campbell's jersey. Now, let's look at the point of contact for Hossa on Hamhuis from Saturday:

Clearly in this still frame you can see that Hossa is making contact with Hamhuis in the side-armpit region. These stills make very clear that the points of contact from Ovechkin and Hossa were different; Ovechkin hit Campbell in the back, while Hossa made contact with Hamhuis from the side. Now, let's evaluate perhaps the most critical part of the evidence: the relation of the player being hit to the puck. First, let's look at where the puck is in relation to Campbell in March.

Next, let's look at where the puck is in relation to Hamhuis on Saturday.

On Saturday, Hamhuis was pursuing the puck towards the boards in the final moments of a tight game; Chicago had already pulled their netminder at this point and were skating six. If Hamhuis didn't know contact was coming, he doesn't deserve to be in the NHL. In March, though, we can clearly see that Campbell had already dumped the puck into the corner and was beginning a meaningless circle of the net when Ovechkin shoved him into the boards.

With these two stills, again, we can clearly see that the hits are nowhere similar. Finally, let's evaluate the end result of the hits. Ovechkin knocked Campbell out for almost six weeks with a broken collarbone and rib. Hossa's hit ended Hamhuis' afternoon, but has not reportedly caused significant injury to the Predators defenseman. So we've established that Hossa's hit was A) not in the back, B) on a player who was playing the puck, and C) did not seriously injure the player. Based on those criteria, and with the perspective that Hossa is not a repeat offender, there is no legitimate reason for the NHL to suspend Hossa from Game Six.

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  • Probably the best and sanest review and comparison of these two hits I have seen. Thank you!

  • An outstanding review!

    I'm not sure I agree with the "points of contact" part, as Ovechkin looks to be closer to the side, as well. But you make a strong case. Beyond that, the other two points are massive. Hossa does not have a history of this behavior, and Ovechkin's was clearly a cheap shot. Hossa was simply fighting for the puck.

    Well done.

  • In reply to illinifan1280:

    Thanks, Charlie. Ovechkin's shot got more back than Hossa's, largely because Ovechkin's hit got ANY part of Campbell's back. The major Hossa received was the worst the refs could, and should, have done.

  • In reply to the1tab:

    Campbell started to turn after Ovechkin started to push him.

  • The Blackhawks should have this on their front page...and send the link to Bettman.

  • In reply to alexquigley:

    LOL I wouldn't mind it!

  • Look at the footing as well.

    Ovechkin is clearly planted and lines up the hit well in advance.

    Hossa is off balance which you can really see as he runs into the boards behind the net.

    Just like anything else, the power of a hit starts at the legs and you can clearly tell the difference here.

  • In reply to dexterspub:

    That's why I included the video feed... nothing about the two hits was similar other than where it happened: Chicago

  • In reply to dexterspub:

    NHL decides against suspended Hossa which is the right call.

    I'd add one more difference between the plays to the one you mentioned, the biggest one. Ovechkin used a lot of force to push Campbell while Hossa reached out and barely touched Hamhuis.

    I will say that Hossa, and all players, need to try to avoid doing that because it can be dangerous, but it wasn't anywhere near as flagrant as Ovechkin's shove.

  • In reply to borg:

    I'm glad the NHL didn't error on the side of ratings and did the right thing here. With PHX-DET going 7 games now, and VAN-LA still playing their game six in LA tonight (VAN up 3-2), the Blackhawks could (in theory) get done with their series before two of the other series. Gary Bettman's office has tried to create drama from nothing in a dramatic sport too much over the past decade-plus, and clearly made the correct move here. Good work, Colin Campbell!

  • In reply to borg:

    i think the biggest thing about this isnt where the hit occurred on the body but how the hit happened. Hossa's arms were fully extended when he pushed Hamhuis. Ovechkin went in with his arms to his chest and extended them when he hit Cambell. I think that made a huge difference.

  • In reply to borg:

    BAM, this is absolutely the clearest review of the hit i've seen so far. Thank you. That it's even been compared has been making me crazy.

    As the previous commenter stated, the first thing I noticed was that Ovechkin when in shoulder-first with the intent to send Campbell flying. Hossa simply reached out like he wanted to tap the guy on the back. No comparison at all.

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