I finally got around to watching the highlights from last night's debacle against the Maple Leafs. I wasn't too keen on seeing them after the game, the worst one the Canadiens have played in over a year.
Last night, I missed the first ten minutes of the game after arriving home from my daughter's tournament (she was game MVP) and I watched the first half of the game with the sound down and some company in the room. I hadn't seen the Tom Kostopoulos hit on Leafs defenseman Mike Van Ryn, but I had heard a bit about it, and that he'd been thrown from the game.
Late this afternoon I spoke with a Leafs fan friend that called it the most disgusted thing he's seen in years. He's calling Kostopoulos to get 20 games suspension for it. Unfortunately I couldn't give my opinion at the time.
After finding a You Tube clip of the hit, I had to watch it over and over to figure out what the fuss is about. The hit is perfectly legal. The result, anything but pretty.
Van Ryn unfortunately left himself wide open and vulnerable on the play. A player should always be alert and aware of his surroundings and never let up like he did. Stopping to cradle to puck when he knows he's being pursued is just plain dangerous.
There were several intelligent options for a defenseman to make on the play, and any of them should have included Van Ryn bracing himself to take a hit. It is a players perogative to protect themselves when skating to the boards to play the puck, and Van Ryn acted like there wasn't a soul around him.
As is often the case, the officials penalized the result instead of the act, as though it is Kostopoulos' fault that Van Ryn's a lame brain.
I showed my 13 year old daughter the clip of the hit. They teach boys her age in bantam how to give and receive bodychecks. She played three exhibition games last season against that age group. They weren't allowed to bodycheck against the girls team, but that didn't stop my girl from taunting them with a slam or two of her own.
When she saw what Van Ryn did, she was laughing. She couldn't understand what he was thinking when he stopped to pivot on the puck. Neither can I.
Kostopoulos is pretty much faultless in the whole incident. His hitting motion is completely legal, There is no attempt to isolate Van Ryn's head. What was most unfortunate, is that once a player throws himself into a hit, it's practically impossible to put on the brakes. It's akin to turning back once you've jumped from a plane. Kostopoulos can't exactly pull a shute once his momentum has been propelled in Van Ryan's direction.
I doubt that Kostopoulos will receiving anything more than a game for this. I don't even see a two minute penalty on the play.
While searching for the clip, I found this beauty from two weeks back when Milan Lucic of the Bruins hit Van Ryn, shattering the glass in the process. Van Ryn should be made aware that players will attempt to take him out of the play.
Let's hope that everything will be alright in his case, and that he makes a sound recovery and quick return to the ice.