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Ovechkin's Hit On Heward

In case you missed Alex Ovechkin's hit on Lightning defenseman (and former Capital) Jamie Heward, here it is again:

Scary stuff, indeed.

GM George McPhee told me after the game that he did not expect Ovechkin to face any disciplinary action for the hit. I also checked with league disciplinarian Colin Campbell, as I sometimes do after hits that result in injury.

Here is what Campbell told me via email earlier this morning: "We look at all games/hits/injuries to determine if they were fair and legal. Nothing is announced unless we are announcing a suspension."

Campbell told St. Pete Times beat writer Damian Cristodero virtually the same thing.

If the league does take action, it will be announced before Saturday's game against the Rangers. The league can also fine players up to $2,500, though fines are not always disclosed to the public or media.

Katie will be on the case tomorrow as I plan to take a day off.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  January 2, 2009; 2:38 AM ET
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There is something terribly wrong with the "new" NHL.

Emphasis on Hooking & Holding penalties taking a back seat to what happened tonight is pathetic.

Sorry folks but OV needs to be punished for running a helpless player.

Look at the video, clearly Heward takes a quick look but is unable to see what's coming from behind, he was helpless on the play.

I'm not saying OV intended anything bad, he just needs to be held accountable for coming up behind another player along the boards, otherwise it sends a poor message.

Posted by: Pivot | January 2, 2009 3:08 AM | Report abuse

Intention is never an issue - no players wants to hurt one's head.

Sorry to say this, but there has been very similar hits that HAVE been sanctioned with suspensions. It's not a 100% clean hit. Elbowing is involved. Granted, Heward had his head down but still...

Posted by: mauree | January 2, 2009 3:28 AM | Report abuse

That was a forearm, not an elbow.

Posted by: rw-c | January 2, 2009 5:23 AM | Report abuse

I've replayed the hit more times then I care to say but it was not an illegal hit. A referee was looking right at the play and if everyone recalls how they called the game, Ovie would have been whistled off if it was questionable.

Hope Heward is ok, and I'm sure he too would agree it was not dirty once he sees the play.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | January 2, 2009 6:35 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: ergoroc | January 2, 2009 6:40 AM | Report abuse

People that have already decided that Ovie is dirty will see what they want to see, but both went to the boards with Ovie just a bit behind and aiming to finish his check (as all are supposed to do). Unfortunately Heward uses that fraction of a second gap to look down for the puck putting his head where his shoulders are supposed to be.

Posted by: TheCapitalist1 | January 2, 2009 6:42 AM | Report abuse

I don't think that was an elbow, mauree. It looked more like a forearm to me when I was watching the replay last night (although Tarik, the video comes up as no longer available). Shoulder and forearm to shoulder is normal in a bodycheck, isn't it?

I can't see where this is a dirty hit. An awkward hit, definitely, but it looks to me like Ovi was just aiming to finish his check, and Heward zigged when Ovi expected him zag, then put his head down. I can see where the NHL might decide to call it (especially since it's Ovi and not Crosby) but I don't see anything dirty about it.

Posted by: kittypawz | January 2, 2009 6:57 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the Capitalist after seeing the video.

Posted by: MNMNT | January 2, 2009 6:59 AM | Report abuse

Clean or dirty, I was surprised that no Bolts player went after OV.

There is a code, you hurt my guy, be ready to go.
I realize it's not the "euro" way, it's a matter of principal.

Posted by: Pivot | January 2, 2009 2:13 AM

I think that fighting after clean hits is crap. Some people do it, but clean hits are part of a rough contact sport played by grown men. You should be able to take a clean hit. Now, dirty hits and running the goalie - that's something else again, but clean hits, no.

Posted by: kittypawz | January 2, 2009 7:04 AM | Report abuse

i couldn't see it from where i sat, i just saw heward slump down and stay down. if you look at the video ovechkin didn't have really anywhere else to go and he was going to finish a check with that speed going on, and heward's head was down and got caught awkwardly. he wasn't headhunting.

did anyone else see the elbow to the face that green got within the last 10 seconds of the game?

Posted by: MNMNT | January 2, 2009 7:05 AM | Report abuse

I love Ovie but still think the hit should be subsequently punished by the NHL.

I played the hit in slow motion several times on my big screen. When Ovie was coming into the boards Heward was facing backwards to the boards ( he did not turn at the last second). Ovie hit him slightly to the side but ( still looks like from behind). Ovie is great and everyone loves him and knows there is now way he did this with any bad intent, but if the players want a safer playing environment that hit should be reviewed just like any other hit where a player is injured and not treated differently because nobody wants Ovie punished!

Heward was a great contributor to the Caps when he was here. Fans loved him. He was always so approachable by the fans at Kettler. Hope he is okay and able to get back to hockey!

Posted by: hockeymom03 | January 2, 2009 7:15 AM | Report abuse

No penalty called, no fine needed, and surely no suspension warranted. This was a normal play against the boards down low. The game is played at full speed and split seconds can be devastating. Like Joe B. said in the broadcast, it is amazing that there things don't happen more often than they do. For that we are fortunate.

It is wrong to look for someone to punish just because an injury occurs. This was a clean hit. It happens. There was likely no retaliation from Tampa because they were a aware it was a clean hit.

On the lighter side... Just what we need. The Washington Post calling up the NHL and asking them to please suspend OV.

Posted by: lornemyoung | January 2, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Ovechkin put his elbow into the back of Heward's head, left his feet, and followed through with the hit driving Heward into the glass.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | January 2, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

I'd encourage folks to take a look at the Kostopoulos hit on Van Ryn from a month or so ago to see what a helpless player facing the boards looks like.

Tough hit? Yeah. Dirty? Not so much.

Posted by: Section117 | January 2, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Sorry Folks, hate to see anyone get hurt, but that was just hockey. It was not a blatent run from behind. You cannot take the hitting out of the game.Players are big,and fast, and things happen in a blink of the eye. Hope he is going to be o.k. , but I do not think anyone on Tampa felt it was a cheap shot at all.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | January 2, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the site plug, however unintentional Tarik. ;) Anyway, best wishes to Heward. Everybody loved the guy when he was here.

Posted by: rh71 | January 2, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Nobody took a run at Ovie so obviously Tampa didn't think it was dirty. With Brashear out we were vulnerable but the way Ovie reacted pretty much told the Lightning that there was no ill intent. On a positive note I was glad to see multiple lines scoring.

Posted by: tomdchancar | January 2, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

How in the world can anyone say that was a dirty hit. Now if it had been away from the play then yes, it would have been dirty......but, both players were attempting to play the puck which was along the boards.....clean hit!!! I'm sorry but do you guys want these men out there with diapers on?? Hitting is part of the game, it always has been and hopefully always will be. With that said my best wishes for Hewards speedy recovery.

Posted by: PhilR | January 2, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Is anyone besides me a little worried about Ovi? While my thoughts and prayers are with Jamie Heward and his family, it doesn't sound like Ovi is taking this well at all. I don't want him to drop his game because of it - I think that was just horrid timing and horrid luck in a rough sport. Hopefully Clarkie and Gabby can talk him down. :(

Posted by: kittypawz | January 2, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

new thread :)

Posted by: BlondeCapsFan | January 2, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

By rule, it wasn't a legal hit. Now going forward the NHL doesn't want to suspend its top player and take him off the ice for a significant amount of time. If this had been a 4th liner, he'd be on vacation.

Posted by: caphcky | January 2, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

@caphcky - What was illegal about it? We can't see everything from the angle available, but it looked like Ovechkin just finished his check and Heward's head was down in a bad place. That's HOCKEY! If you want people who pussyfoot around, go watch baseball.

It wasn't even that hard of a hit!

Posted by: irockthered | January 2, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

caphcky, do tells us what rule that violated. thanks.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | January 2, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I hope Heward is back soon. I don't believe there was an intent, it's not Ovechkin's way, and I think is was a pretty horrible outcome in a contact sport. If the NHL reviews the play and takes actions, so be it. I don't think Ovechkin or the team would be happy but I also don't think you'd hear much yelling.

Posted by: saintex | January 2, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Looks like it could be a charge.

It seems that Ovechkin jumps into Heward because you can kind of see him land. Also you've got the high contact to the neck/head area. There's not a reverse angle, unfortunately.

I sometimes wonder if charging isn't the forgotten penalty in the league these days, though. I love Ovechkin, but, to be objective, a fair number of his big hits could be so classified. In fact, you could say that about a lot of hits in the league today--not just Ovechkin's. Yet you hardly ever see that penalty called.

Posted by: slipstream1 | January 2, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I love the Tampa trolls who come here and claim this was an illegal hit by a "dirty player". This was a clean shoulder/forearm hit, no elbow, no charge. Heward lowered his head directly into the line of the impact, leading to his KO. This was like hundreds of other hits that Ovechkin has made, using his speed and strength to separate the puck from another player. It was a perfectly legal hit with a very unfortunate outcome for the player who ducked his head into the line of impact. I am sorry for Heward's pain, but Ovie did not act with malice, and made a legal play.
No penalty called, and no sanctions now needed.
End of story.

Posted by: pcalver1 | January 2, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

But "charging" is not called very often precisely because it is a vague and useless penalty. If this rule were enforced as written, no hitting in hockey other than incidental contact would be allowed.

The charging rule exists to provide a basis for JUDGEMENT calls by the referee when he thinks excessive force or violence was applied to a hit, either against the boards, or in open ice. In this case, the TWO referees did not see a charging foul, and thus, none was called. This was therefore NOT charging, because the referees did not call it charging.

Posted by: pcalver1 | January 2, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

@pcalvert 1:

Well, to be accurate, the referee stated that he "could not tell" if Ovechkin left his feet. Sounds as if he is obliquely admitting that he didn't get a good look. And of course he can't view it repeatedly as you and I can so there's no recourse.

Let's not pretend NHL referees never miss calls, either.

All I'm saying is that just because the ref didn't see it/call it doesn't mean you couldn't make an argument that a charge occurred.

Posted by: slipstream1 | January 2, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse


you honestly think OV was taking a run???? He was going FOR the puck and finishing his check. It is not his fault Heward had his head down (first rule of hockey is.... )

OV even turned his body to not finish the check(something hockey players are not supposed to do)

he does A LOT of charging, but this one was not one of them.

Posted by: richmondphil | January 2, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

the argument that a suspension cannot happen because no call was made also doesn't work. I can think of tons of suspensions that happened in which no calls were made...

Posted by: richmondphil | January 2, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I did not say that a suspension could not result because no call was made. I said that charging did not occur, because the referee did not call it. The rule inherently demands a judgement call by the referees, both of whom did NOT make that call. Therefore, I assert that charging did not occur.

Posted by: pcalver1 | January 2, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Def not a dirty hit. It was a hard hit and Jamie turned at the last second and ovies forearm went to his head instead of his body. Why would Ovie try to hit someone dirty? I've never seen him do that...hard hits yes...but never have I seen him hit dirty. AND I why would he want to hit Heward dirty? Jamie helped him out tremedously in his rookie season and they are friends. Come on all you Ovie haters..there is no way in heck that was a dirty hit. The fact that we're discussing it here proves that. No one can decide. Clean hit that's it...End this argument.

Jamie and his wife have are friends to our family and they have personally showed us around the Verizon center...I wish Jamie and his wife Tish all the best. Get back out there Jamie!

Posted by: marklee15 | January 2, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

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