How many dirty hits does it take to make a dirty player?

Dilip Vishwanat

After Lapierre's ugly hit on Dan Boyle last night, the question of whether he's a dirty player results a sharp dichotomy of answers.

You hear it every single time a player lays a hit that looks bad, "He's not that kind of player". I said it last week when Lars Eller hit Taylor Hall from behind, even though I acknowledged that if the league felt the need to suspend him, it would be warranted.

The most commonly cited reason for a player not being dirty is a clean suspension record, something a player like Chris Neil can boast. With that said, I think anyone who isn't a blind Senators homer would admit that Neil crosses the line regularly and has been lucky not to be suspended.

If a player doesn't have a clean suspension record, the next line of reasoning can be that the player isn't a repeat offender, which surprisingly is the case for Maxim Lapierre, whose last suspension is outside the cutoff to punish him for being a repeat offender. But what does repeat offender mean? It's really just a loosely applied standard by the NHL in order to punish players who get suspended multiple times within a short time frame.

Players that have been hit with long suspensions due to being repeat offenders are Matt Cooke, Raffi Torres, and now Patrick Kaleta. But in order to be a repeat offender, you have to be suspended. Many dirty hits don't result in suspensions due to one technicality or another.

So the question becomes, do you have to serve multiple suspensions to be a dirty player, or just have multiple dirty hits?

After Lapierre made this hit on Dan Boyle last night:


Renaud Lavoie of RDS tweeted the following:

Ignoring the spelling mistake, it's clear that Renaud is using suspensions to come to that conclusion, because I can equivocally state that Lapierre is definitely viewed as a dirty player by fans.

But then again, so is Claude Lemieux, and with Lemieux it seems like fans can only remember one incident in his entire career where he was dirty and not just agitating, which is the hit on Kris Draper. One hit is hardly enough to make that kind of judgement.

But Lapierre has been suspended before, even if it was four seasons ago. And there are also hits that he wasn't suspended for, like these compiled by St. Louis Game Time.

While I doubt that SLGT spent a ton of time searching for videos, four dirty hits in eight years isn't the most compelling evidence of a player being "dirty" either. Personally, I do think Lapierre is a dirty player, although I wouldn't put him in the same category as players like Kaleta or Torres. Lapierre is more careless and stupid, while the others are predatory, looking to hurt on purpose.

But how many bad hits does it take for a player to be labelled dirty?


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