What To Make Of The Niklas Kronwall Hit Parade

 

If you watched the game between the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers last night or caught the highlights on any sports network’s morning loop then you were certain to see the devastating hit laid on Flyers forward Jakub Voracek by Red Wings defenceman Niklas Kronwall.

Over the past few seasons Kronwall has become what Scott Stevens was during his time, with his penchant for catching players with their heads down and lowering the boom with a huge hit.

While his hits are for the most part clean and within the rules, there are those who are bound to not like the way in which Kronwall goes about his business.

Unlike someone like Stevens, Kronwall’s game isn’t centered around playing tough and physical. In fact, Kronwall is mainly known as a gifted two-way defender with great mobility, puck-smarts and one-on-one play.

Yes, he hits very hard but it seems that the only time he does look to play physically is when he knows he is going to catch someone with his head.

A look at his hits and you will see that they mostly occur under the same circumstance.

It starts with the opposing player receiving the puck on the same side of the ice that Kronwall is monitoring. The player gets the puck and looks to immediately gather speed and head up ice. As there are very few NHL defencemen who will look to pinch and take out the puck carrier, the player thinks the way is clear of defenders and he will be able to skate a few strides without impedement. Wrong. Kronwall, knowing the player has his head down, skates toward him and explodes into the unexpecting player with, as we saw last night, thunderous force.

Aside from making contact with the head, Kronwall’s hit on Voracek, like most of his hits, was within the rules. There have been other instances however, such as his hit on Ryan Kesler earlier in the year that can be looked at in a different manner. A manner that sees Kronwall as more of an annoyance than anything else.

On the Kesler hit, Kronwall turns his body to the puck-carrier and hits him almost completely with his back. Kesler was furious after the hit but admitted it was a clean check after the game.

However, it was clear on the ice that Kesler didn’t like it and that probably has to with three things:

1. What I touched on earlier about Kronwall not being considered a physical or tough player outside of hitting players in a vulnerable position.

2. the fact that he turned his body in an effort to increase the impact while lessening the chances of injuring himself, and

3. A hard-nosed player like Kesler would also be put off by the way in which Kronwall thinks he, [as NHL players like to say], never has to answer the bell. Whether you agree with it or not, it has become an unwritten rule that if you are going to go around looking to crush guys with their heads down then you better be willing to back it up when someone on the other team comes looking for retribution in the way of a fisticuff. Kronwall does not fall in line with that notion and looks to avoid any reprecussion that may be coming his way.

Kronwall will not be suspended for the hit on Voracek just as he hasn’t been for any of his other massive checks, but regardless of whether his hits are considered within the rules, his intentions will continue to be questioned by those around the NHL; including his peers.

Andrew Sykes

Andrew Sykes

Resident of Windsor, Ontario. Extensive knowledge of both the NHL and junior hockey in Canada, particularly the OHL. Writer for THW covering the Winnipeg Jets and the OHL as well as covering Phoenix Coyotes prospects for Hockey's Future.

37 Comments

  1. Bush league.  First (and last) article I have read on this site.

  2. This article is pathetic. You try to insist that what you wrote was facts even when whole thing was based on your biased opinions. Try harder next time.

    • Let me guess – Wings Fan? Was that a stretch?

      • Going to ‘attack’ Wings fans because they are right?  Andrew did use his opnion as fact and does it often. Tried to get me to do it on Twitter by asking me to assume what Steve Yzerman thinks.  I can’t do that I am not Yzerman and I can not read minds.  Sure glad we have Andrew that can tell me what a majority of players think; because I sure can’t tell you as fact what they think, but I can give opinion.  There is a difference.

        •  Monica – if we are going to pay attention to detail – please note that my response was to 1 fan, not “fans’. I didn’t agree with his assessment of the article, that’s it.

        • Andrew Sykes says:

          Yeah you give an opinion, but only if it shines a positive light on the Detroit Red Wings, right Monica? Anything else is blashpemy. Try becoming a fan of the NHL and hockey in general instead of just the Detroit Red Wings. Everything you write and say reeks of the”die-hard” fan.

  3. Gravitykill says:

    Seriously, this rubbish should not be published.  Only worthwhile Wings coverage I’ve seen on this site has been Monica’s articles.  Take a few lessons from her Andrew and learn to proofread to make sure you complete your thoughts and aren’t just spewing out false/unverified statements or incomplete thoughts as if they’re fact

    • Andrew Sykes says:

      Actually, the article is generally being well received by most. It seems that it is mostly Detroit fans that disagree with it, and that is something that obviously is to be expected

    • Andrew Sykes says:

      Please show me a Wings fan that wouldnt be screaming for retribution if Datsyuk or Zetterberg were on the receiving end of a Kronwall type hit

    • Andrew Sykes says:

      Even if it was clean. I doubt they would sit there and say “So what if Pavel is lieing there motionless with a pool of blood dripping from his mouth, it was a clean hit” lol get real

  4.  The butthurt is strong with this ne.

  5. What a hack article. Grow up

  6. Voracek peeked – Kronwall appeared to be backing off – but quickly changed tactics when he determined JV was thinking he had backed off. I love hard hits – but this can’t be acceptable. Kronwall had options – using his hip, angling to one side of JV. He is a predator and he will pay at some point.

  7. Real Hockey Fan says:

    Get your head up! The only reason they are vulnerable is because they make the mistake of not looking up. You are an idiot if you think that he ONLY hits players with their head down. The reason you only see him front and center on big hits is because that’s all they will replay. Watch more Wings games before you spout out about hits. What the hell has hockey come to where they are upset about hits that ARE LEGAL. How about we make it a non-contact sport then we can just watch figuring skating all day.

  8. A hit and a big hit are completely different. Kronwall has 109 hits this year.  He throws so many big hits that maybe you don’t notice it when it’s not a monster hit. Of course he only throws BIG hits when a player is vulnerable. By definition if you’re in a position to get rocked like that you’re vulnerable. To say he only plays physical when he sees someone in a vulnerable position is beyond silly. Ditto for comparing his hits to Kaleta and Cooke. Seriously? Those hits are against the rules. Kronwall is very rarely against the rules. I’m a Vancouver fan, and the Kesler hit was borderline – it might not even be dirty – and that’s about it. Kronwall doesn’t have a reputation as a dirty player BECAUSE HE’S NOT DIRTY. If you have a problem with getting rocked because you’re in a vulnerable position, don’t get caught in a vulnerable position when 55 is on the ice.

    And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with throwing hits with his back, either. In fact, it’s probably a far cleaner way to hit because you’re never going to be accidentally nailing someone in the head with an elbow or anything like that.

    The backlash against Kronwall is ridiculous, downright stupid.

  9. Im guessing you havent seen Stevens playing other then his famous top10 hits… “mainly known as a gifted two-way defender with great mobility, puck-smarts and one-on-one play” Kronwall career high in points is 51 and he has 2x 10+goal seasons. “Game entirely centered around playing tough and physical” Stevens has 1x 20+ and 8x 10+goal seasons, 8x 50+ points and career high was 78 points. Im not saying that Kronwall isnt good two-way defender, but saying Stevens was only a tough guy…

    • I get the point the writer was making. I bet he would acknowledge that Stevens was a pretty rare combination. I seem to remember that there was once talk of trading Stevens for Yzerman, straight up, and New Jersey nixed it. 

    • stevens just a tough guy? he put up some pretty good numbers w/ blues and caps before becoming scott stevens everyone knows with the devils. i always thought it was an unusual and impressive development over of a lengthy career. going from a clearly offensive defenceman w/ lots of points  to a very feared (and vicious) stay at home dude, that is. in a sense reminds me of how yzerman evolved from a point getter to a precense all over the ice. love him or hate him, stevens was something else and that showed on the results that those nj teams were getting. he played with some mean edge for sure. kronwall? not so much, but opposing players making sure they know where he is whenever they’re crossing the blue line for sure doesn’t make him a less efficient  defenceman.

      do the players actually find kronwall  a dirty player? i honestly don’t know, but somehow i doubt it.

  10. Andrew Sykes says:

    looks right to me

  11. unfrozencavemanlawyer says:

    As to point #2. Your finding fault in a player trying to lessen his chance to hurt himself making a hit. As if trying to hurt yourself makes you a real student of “The Code”. This whole thing reads like some sort of  8th grade writing competition peace. It would get a shitty grade based on grammar as well. 

    • Andrew Sykes says:

      When you hit a guy, you aren’t supposed to turn your back. You’re supposed to meet the player head on, are you not?

      • Of course you mean shoulder-to-shoulder. I read another piece where Kronwall was praised for turning a little more away from the other player. The writer was saying that it spreads the point of contact along a larger area and presents less danger to the player being hit. I’m not really sure about that. I don’t think he is a any kind of cowardly cheap shot guy though.

  12. unfrozencavemanlawyer says:

    Whats more of an annoyance is this continued reference to “the hockey code”. Ooooh dont violate the code. Guy hits a guy clean and hard so therefore he must drop the gloves. Yeah right whatever. If he was elbowing, slashing, kneeing people i would say yeah absolutely. Just imagine if he was a free agent after this year. I think he would have almost as much interest as Weber as a free agent. His peers would love to have them on their team no doubt. 

    • Andrew Sykes says:

      I know he is a very good player and I mentioned that in the article. And yes any team would love to have him, but I’m not going to ignore what I see. And what I see is a player who only looks to hit when a player is vulnerable.

      I would have less of a problem if he was a rough and tumble player throughout the game, but he’s not. All he does is take the role of a predator who only seeks to capitalize on the weak.

      • Again, I have to disagree. You’re right in saying he isn’t a physical monster like Stevens, so the only ‘big hits’ he delivers are the timing hits that you mention. But Kronwall plays the body all over the rink. He doesn’t shy away from physical play in his own zone and in front of the net. He’s just not a big guy and he doesn’t send guys flying with other hits.

  13. 1 Where is the scouting report on Kronwall? By now teams should know his game. Know who is on the ice. 2 When and why did it become ok for players with the puck to stop being responsible for themselves and blame the guy making the hit? Get your head up!

    • Andrew Sykes says:

      That is partly true but look around, there is a reason he is the only player these days that is always in the news
      for crushing guys with their head down.

      There is plenty of oppurtunities for
      other guys in every game to do what he does, they just pass them up because
      thats the direction the game is heading.

      • dude, that’s just ludicrous. other players pass on these hits, eh? it takes silly skill to what he does. i mean, anyone can try and succeed from time to time, but what makes open ice hitting something else is what happens if you miss. out of position is an understatement at that point. just ask phaneuf. it takes some serious hockey brains to do the kronwall thing. that’s a friggin sophisticated defensman, fellers. flyers man here.

    • I also think it isn’t simply hitting for hitting’s sake. Once the ‘Kronwall effect” is in a forward’s head it might cause them to hesitate, miss a pass or cause a defender to choose a riskier pass through the center of the zone than chipping up to the forward along the boards. Sure, that might only be a fraction of the time, but playoff games are often won and lost by small mistakes or bad decisions.

  14. Dumbest thing I’ve read in a while.

  15. The notion of needing to fight after a clean hit is what’s riduclous.  I don’t know whether players have become over sensisitve or what it is but it’s the intentions of other players who are looking to fight Kronwall after a clean hit that needs to be looked at…

    • Andrew Sykes says:

      Because its clean in rule only. As far as player code goes, if you are gonna be the type of player who looks to absolutely destroy someone in a vulnerable situation every chance you get, then you better be able to back it up. I find myself thinking that the only difference between Kronwall and guys like Kaleta, Cooke etc. is that Kronwall’s repuation of being a very good player often gives him a free pass, whereas those guys deliver similar hits but are considered extremely dirty players.

      • Better be able to back it up?   Every shift Kronwall is out there – is an opportunity for the other team to make him pay.  But they don’t ever quite catch him.  Why is that?  Lemme guess…it’s because they think two wrongs don’t make a right…so they back off…right?  

        And that line about other players not hammering guys while they are in a vulnerable position is complete BS.  It takes tremendous skill and timing to make those kinds of hits – and very few can consistently do it cleanly.  Furthermore, if there was any truth to what you’re saying – every forward in the league would just put his head down (thereby making himself vulnerable) and skate up ice with the puck.  But that doesn’t happen…I wonder why?

    • Andrew Sykes says:

      He doesnt have to fight, but I think he does need to play tougher on a consistent
      basis. The only hits I ever see him deliver are when he knows a guy is
      vulnerable.

      Any other d-man in the league could do the same thing he does if
      they wanted, but most of them choose not to out of respect for the
      opponent.You dont think guys like Weber or Chara could step up and obliterate
      everyone if they wanted to? Come on now.

      • I respectfully disagree. If other guys could do it they would. What Kronwall does requires an instinct and timing that not every player has, maybe even talented guys like Weber and Chara.

  16. David O'Connor David O'Connor says:

    I agree with what Bill Clement said in the video above.  The referees need to be more aware of when a player is seriously injured. It was instantly obvious in this play. Voracek was out cold as soon as he was hit, and the lifeless arms prove it. Hopefully that will be improved in future situations similar to this one.

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