Inquiring Minds: Should Malkin Be Suspended For This Head Shot?

It’s never been disputed by anyone that hockey is a rough and tumble sport and if you don’t keep your head up you’re going to get knocked on your ass. But when exactly does simply playing the body cross over into the dark and dingy realm of cheap shot? The following un-penalized hit by Evgeni Malkin on the Kings’ Wayne Simmonds might just be that moment.


Keep in mind that the game was for all intents and purposes over for the Kings, who were losing 4-1 with only 14 seconds to go when Simmonds and Malkin came together. Simmonds was dazed but otherwise uninjured on the play, but does that make a shot to the head any less malicious? Was the hit unnecessary? Probably, but as one commenter on the HF Boards put it “a hit to the head is a hit to the head. Doesn’t matter if there is an injury or not.”

So my question to you is this: Does Evgeni Malkin deserve a bit of disciplinary action or is this hit something that should be filed away under “Just Part of the Game?” One could say that while going for the puck Simmonds lead with his head and therefore should have seen what was coming, while at the same time an argument can be made concerning Malkin’s clear attempt to hit Simmonds whether he saw it coming or not. And is that a bit of an elbow I see there?

It certainly looks like it.

  • MJ Kasprzak

    Me, either, but then I wasn’t raised to hate the Pens—perhaps if I was a Flyers fan, I would see it that way. I think it’s fair to say that at the very least, his shoulder did.

  • Rick Moldovanyi

    Sorry, I was away and missed Chris’ reply.

    Chris, can you show me when in that clip “his elbow clearly makes contact with the head?”

    His upper arm made contact:

  • Chris Shafer

    Um Rick. His elbow clearly makes contact with the head.

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  • Rick Moldovanyi

    The hit wasn’t an elbow. It wasn’t a charge. Malkin didn’t leave his feet. There was no intent to injure. By current NHL rules there is no reason to give Malkin a penalty or a suspension.

    HOWEVER, if the league wants to focus on eliminating head shots from the game, they should state that ANY head shot will lead to a penalty or suspension. That means it would be like high sticking. It wouldn’t matter why you hit someone in the head, it’s the fact that you did that matters.

    That’s currently not the rule.

    Therefore, Malkin should not be suspended. But I do think the rule should change.

  • Chris Shafer

    By the way, for all those who believe Malkin was just protecting himself please re-watch the video. Malkin his the puck at the beginning obviously. He could just play the puck and keep skating risking getting hit. Getting hit would likely mean he loses the puck, but Wayne Simmonds isn’t going for the hit. If you watch the video he has his head down and is going after the puck. This is when Malkin charges him elbow first. That’s why everyone’s so upset. It isn’t that Malkin was protecting himself. Instead he was violently disregarding the puck and going after another guy in a way that could cause serious injury. If he had done what any normal player would have in this situation and continued to play the puck instead of leaving it there and charging Simmonds then we wouldn’t be having this conversation today. That’s the bottom line.

  • MJ Kasprzak

    Seriously, you have NOT seen harder hits at a girls chess match. And I can’t speak for anyone else, but I do not want to take away hits. I also do not begrudge Malkin his success—in fact, he is one of my ten favourite non-Sharks. I think he should win the Hart.
    And I will clarify one point: with the way the rules have been enforced, he does not deserve a suspension. But they way they SHOULD be enforced, he does, ’cause like Bruce said, you are responsible for what your actions can cause: just like an accidental high stick is just as much a penalty as a purposeful one, an accidental elbow to the head should be as suspendable as an intentional one.
    Under the current rules, if they took away fighting, you are absolutely right about what would result. But if the league ACTUALLY punished this stuff (and yes, Truth, I believe that includes Ovy, Sid, Jumbo, Iggy, ANYONE—I hope you weren’t assuming I am an hypocrite), there would be less need for fighting. This is from someone who is an enforcer: I believe in it because someone has to protect my teammates from cheapshots since the refs (of which there are none in pickup games…) don’t.

    • Bruce Hollingdrake

      well said MJ

  • Badvibesdude

    He had his elbow tucked and lead with his shoulder. Simmonds had his head down.

    If the NHL wants to send the message that no one is above hits to the head, they had plenty of chances to do so by suspending Ovechkin earlier this year.

    • Bruce Hollingdrake

      I agree – and agree with the earlier comment on the NHL being hypocritical. They have had lots of chances and are totally blowing it on a topic that is much more urgent than fighting.

  • Julian

    This whole things stems from Malkin kicking everyone’s ass in the points race. If you don’t see that…you’re blind.

    Now, dude was coming hard at Malkin, he put his shoulder into position, and the guy got in the head. KEEP YOUR HEAD UP!!!!! That isn’t even close to being dirty, dirty is a sucker punch from behind. Like I said before, the guy was trying to run Malkin up…..he did what anyone would do, lowered his shoulder to take the brunt of the hit. If you don’t want to take a shot to the face…..DON”T LEAD WITH YOUR HEAD!!!!!!

    Don’t give me that weak protect the game B.S., when did hockey become such a weak sport? and if they take away fighting, I’ll bet the farm, you see more and more “dirty” hits, until the NHL turns into the NFL and no one can be touched without a major penalty. Seriously, I’ve seen harder hits at a girls chess match. Grow up and stop your whining, these players make a ton of money to play a game…A GAME… if they don’t want the risk, play badminton or slow pitch softball. I’m tired of hearing about these overpaid athletes’ safety, you can’t make the game completely safe…if you did no one would watch.

    • Bruce Hollingdrake

      Julian – a comment telling somebody you don’t know to grow up is asinine. Obviously you’ve never had somebody you care about suffer a head injury. Nobody, no matter what game they’re playing or how much they’re paid deserves to have they’re brains scrambled. And don’t start calling me a soft whiner – I’ve played hockey most of my life (and played it hard), played rugby as well. Head injuries have no place in any sport.

  • Alessandro Seren Rosso

    Yes, this is a must-suspension hit

  • Chris Shafer

    I agree about Mike Richards and Iggy sticking up for themselves, but there’s a difference between them sticking up for themselves and Malkin or Crosby doing it. Iggy and Cannon do that. That’s what they do. They’re physical gritty forwards who other players respect. Scoring points doesn’t give you “respect” to the point where other players don’t pick on you, being a dominant force on the ice physically does. Far fewer players are going to mess with Richards than a forward who doesn’t get into people’s faces. Malkin shows some grit there, but he does it out of retaliation. Cannon goes after people (legally I might add), and that’s how he makes his presence known. Just sitting around waiting for people to come after you doesn’t work.

    If you’re not a force physically and your teammates don’t stick up for you then these kinds of dirty hits are bound to happen. Malkin was 100% in the wrong, defending himself or not.

  • david

    Seriously? Elbow? No, he TUCKS his elbow. Malkin could’ve absolutely leveled Simmonds but he didn’t. He went for a clean hit on someone trying to play the puck. Simmonds was too far from the puck and shouldn’t have made a move towards. But he did, and he decided to bend over and stick his head down. Keep your head up next time, kiddo. Clean hit. Look around and stop being a Malkin hater.

  • Truth

    Rules need to be enforced equally for all players I agree, so next time Ovechkin leaves his feet to run someone which should be any number of penalty’s such as boarding, charging, etc, he should called for it, and just like when he rammed the player head first into the boards earlier in the season, he should recieve suspensions as well. Hypocritical bs.

  • MJ Kasprzak

    Yeah, there are WAY too many hits that are not punished. I think they should punish both the reckless–i.e. no INTENT to harm, but disregard of the possibility–and the intentional harm; obviously, you punish the latter more stiffly (is that a word?).

  • Justin D.

    Bruce. I understand your point and maybe mine was not articulated as clearly I would have liked. I am not suggesting that the NHL allow a complete free-for-all on the ice, and fire should not be repaid with fire. That would be poor for everyone, especially the players. Rather, I believe that the intent of a situation needs to be looked at and placed in context to the game itself, before blanket suspensions are handed out. Sometime accidents happen. Let me make my point using another example. Here is a hit that was reviewed by the league and deemed not “suspendable.” Really??? Obviously, Robyn Regehr had every intent to cause harm to Derek Dorsett, an energy player how is not afraid to mix things up. I believe Regehr should have been assessed a suspension for this because he delivered a hit to the head with an intention to cause harm.

    Now let’s compare this hit to Malkins. I believe that Malkin did not have any intention to harm, rather he was preparing to a take a hit and the hit to the head was completely accidental. I also understand your point about Orpik. Throughout the night and this year, players have been sticking up for Malkin and Crosby. But truthfully, I like it when Malkin,Crosby, Iggy, and Mike Richards stick up for themselves occasionally (again, within reason here). I believe this is what differentiates them from plays like AO who take liberties at other players (with questionable intentions) and go hide behind other teammates to defend them.


    • Bruce Hollingdrake

      Justin – I agree with your last comments. Just thought the hit was a direct head blow and like a stick accidentally cutting somebody where the player is always assessed a penalty, a player has to be responsible for the results.

      David – if you are a regular reader here then you’d know we practically have a Malkin love fest going on. There are no Malkin haters around these parts. We love great hockey and he’s a great one! Just didn’t like this hit and head shots need to be addressed.

  • MJ Kasprzak

    Sharks colour man Drew Remenda siad Thursday night (about a different hit) “I thought that fighting was supposed to prevent these?” (He’s mildly anti-fighting.) Well, I turn that on its head: “What choice do teams have but to fight when this crap is allowed?”

  • Justin D.

    This 7 second clip needs to be taken in context to the rest of the game. The Kings were all over Malkin all game. Don’t believe me…check this out. In addition to Johnson, Simmons was dishing out hits all night (he was assessed a 10 minute misconduct earlier in the game). This hit was not a dirty hit. Malkin was defending himself from an impending hit. Before people jump all over him for being dirty, I think they should look at the body of work and the amount of runs people take at him night in and night out.

    • Bruce Hollingdrake

      Justin I completely disagree with your assessment of what warrants a suspension. If players were given leeway after being harassed then it should be OK for a player to slash somebody if he is slashed first? It just doesn’t work that way. A crime needs to be punished on it’s own regardless of ‘context’. Now the way a good Team works – is that if their star is being run at all game then his teammates should be dealing with it. What was Orpik doing all night?

  • Paul Benvin

    I agree. If the league is serious about stopping such incidents they need to discipline the high end players as well as the grinders.

  • Bryan Larson

    If the league is serious about getting hits to the head out of the game they need to treat the superstars just like any other player and they have been giving out hefty suspensions for what seem like little things. I think he will get a 2 game suspension with that said

  • Chris Hoeler

    A suspension is definitely warranted…the league needs to send a message that no one is above policies.

  • Bryan Larson

    Wow I thought that looked bad I would give him at least 5

  • Bruce Hollingdrake

    People have been talking about stopping head shots for a while, this is a perfect example. I like Malkin a lot but this is a perfect example of the kinds of hits that can cause serious injury; they need to be stopped. Personally I would be giving him 2 games as it’s his first offense (I think?). I’d like to see suspensions increase with frequency of incidents, something like 2-5-15-40 games for each subsequent incident.

  • Chris Shafer

    I think 2 is reasonable when a hit like this ) from Anaheim’s Corey Perry, a known offender, resulted in a 4 game suspension. 2 is definitely the low end, but I wouldn’t complain. 4 of course should be the maximum for something like this.

    The biggest issue is that players have been speaking out about this a lot. Simon Gagne, who had his seasoned ruined by a dirty hit, has nearly gotten a concussion again twice this season, most notably a non-suspended hit from Kovalev of Montreal. He has called out the league numerous times to no avail. More recently he said that the league’s stance about making fighting harder could lead to less self-policing and more potential head injury scenarios. It’s certainly a big issue. The league on the other hand has a history of suspending based on the result with the actual hit being the afterthought. That kind of thinking will cause problems for years to come.