Brandon Dubinsky is not a thug. After Sunday night’s game, some may have thought so, after he laid out Saku Koivu of the Anaheim Ducks. The play was one that you see many times a night in the NHL – a player put his head down to make a pass, looked up and got steam-rolled. No penalty committed. However in the 2013-14 version of the NHL, the game is changed and Dubinsky was eventually assessed a 5-minute major and game misconduct for interference. Take a quick look for yourself at both teams’ calls on the hit.
First, here are Anaheim’s announcers. Notice here that the second time they replay the hit (the view that is from the opposite end of the ice), NEITHER referee has his hand raised to signal a penalty. Naturally, the Ducks’ TV personalities wanted a big penalty, and at first look, deservedly so.
And next, the guys from Columbus. Pause and rewind a few times at the 41 second mark of this video and you’ll see that there’s no contact to the head at any point.
Here’s What We Know
Let’s take a look at a few facts:
- Dubinsky did NOT leave his feet. There are times when you see a guy leap through the air. This was not one of those times.
- He led with his shoulder – a textbook technique. While his elbow did fly into the air immediately after the hit, it was only due to momentum. Again, I invite you to replay the Columbus telecast version of the hit around the 40-43 second mark to view the evidence.
- Koivu was looking down, suddenly looked up, got plowed and then his head slammed into the ground. You see him try to get up and fall again, so there is certainly a concussion concern in play, and Koivu will miss a few games.
- The original call was a no-call. Neither referee was calling a penalty. The decision to call a penalty came after a conference of the 4 on-ice officials, and according to Jacket’s play-by-play man Jeff Rimer, the call ultimately came from a linesman:
It was a hockey play, he did not target the head and do not believe it warranted a 5 minute major for interference! Linesman made the call
— Jeff Rimer (@jrimercbj) October 28, 2013
I said it along with the commentators last night while I was watching the game, and I’ll repeat it here: Dubinsky’s hit was clean. There was no mal-intent, there was no history and there should not have been repercussions from the hit. Thankfully Brendan Shanahan agreed with most Jackets fans and myself and did not issue any additional discipline.
24 Hours Later
On Sunday, Dubinsky was going to be the 2nd intermission interview by the FOX Sports Ohio TV crew, but respectfully declined after this call came just 35 seconds before the end of the 2nd period. Dubinsky had this to say on Monday afternoon:
I’m obivously happy and I agree with what they (the NHL) thought of it. I don’t want to hurt Saku in that situation and I wouldn’t want to hurt anybody. I’m glad they saw it as a clean hit the same way I did. The part that hurts is the fact that (the referees and linesmen) huddled together, saw a big hit and made the call.
It would have helped our game to not have to go out there and kill the first five minutes of the third period. I was pretty down about it. You don’t want to put your team in a bad spot. If I was suspended, I feel like I’m an important enough part of the team that it would hurt the team if I wasn’t in the lineup.
The tough thing about the play was that Dubi was out for the entire 3rd period. This was an excruciating time for him – the foremost leader of the team, and possibly the next Jackets Captain. The penalty cost the Jackets a goal, which they later erased, but the damage had been done and the Jackets would eventually lose on a late Anaheim goal.
I for one, still think Dubinsky should be wearing a “C” on his sweater, rather than an A. He continues to be the consummate team player after his comments today. There is no reason to think differently, and Jackets fans should be proud of their guy for making a good, clean play.
On the other side of the hit: Koivu heads back to Anaheim today rather than continuing on the Ducks’ road trip. We wish him the speediest of recoveries and a fast return to the Ducks.
The Best Time to Name Dubi the Captain
Sunday night was another moment in a string of them that showed me that Brandon Dubinsky is ready for the Captaincy. Many have said that he hasn’t really played a whole lot in Columbus, and they would be right – he has played 40 games in Columbus including Sunday’s tilt. Others say he just isn’t ready to lead the team. To those claims, I call shenanigans. He continues to say the right things at the right times, and now is the time to act.
Perhaps Todd Richards’ master plan is some sort of evil genius, but I’m not banking on it. That is why in the next 3 to 9 days would be the perfect time to hand the Captaincy over to Dubi.
First of all, the Jackets have 5 days between games, and who is next up on the schedule? The Pittsburgh Penguins. Papa Bear to Columbus – the Baby Bear. And not just once, but twice, as the teams play the first of what we hope is many home-and-home series in Pittsburgh on Friday night and in Columbus on Saturday night. Establish a true leader in the locker room and on the ice. We know that Pittsburgh has more talent than Columbus, so perhaps this emotional edge will push them over the top this weekend.
Then let’s look just a touch further down the schedule, and who else is coming to Columbus? None other than Rick Nash himself pays us a visit on November 7. (Note: it remains to be seen whether Nash will play or not, as he is currently on Injured Reserve.) Was Nash the best captain the Blue Jackets could ask for? Was he the best captain the NHL has ever seen? No. In fact, many argue that he wasn’t even qualified to lead the Jackets, except for his exceptional skill on the ice. So why not give the vote of confidence to Dubi now and shove it right in Nash’s face?
And one final concern about naming Dubinsky the captain is a combination of his contract status and “do-you-love-Columbus” status – something that the fans in Columbus are ever-concerned with. I counter that this is also a non-issue. Dubinsky is signed through the 2014-15 season (this year and one more) and the way he is playing, should have no problem earning a contract extension in the off-season.
As far as his love for Columbus goes, does is really matter? I don’t think so, but to this point, Dubi has been seen at Ohio State (NCAA) football games, Columbus Crew (Major League Soccer) games, and other big-time events around town, so I think it is safe to say that Dubinsky likes Columbus enough to earn your vote, and the vote of the Three-Headed moster of John Davidson, Jarmo Kekalainen and Todd Richards.
For right now, we remain with 2 Assistant captains on the Blue Jackets roster. Brandon Dubinsky is the clear cut favorite for the captaincy, and if you ask any Jackets fans in town about it, his name is the one that comes up most often. It’s only a matter of time at this point, and but the time is now for his position to be upgraded.