In Saturday’s game between the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers, Steve Ott delivered a huge blow to Greg Campbell.
Now it’s clear what Panthers’ color man Denny Potvin thinks. But that same night, on Hockey Night in Canada, P.J. Stock and Mike Milbury both called the 5 minute major, charging penalty Ott was awarded extreme. They voiced the opinion that Greg Campbell was busy admiring his pretty pass and Ott simply took advantage. Really? Ott clearly had no intention of playing the puck, never really stopped skating before throwing his full weight into Greg Campbell. The arms came up and it looks like he led with the elbow. The worst part of this hit was the fact that it appears Ott went straight for the head. If he simply checks him, shoulder to body hit, the result would have been the same but without the cheapness. Campbell never saw him coming, and that is partly his fault, but you simply cannot start your skate from the opposite faceoff dot, leave your feet and aim for the head.
So is it right to go at a guy in that way, knowing he is fully unprepared? Now as a hockey player myself, I find it hard to say that Ott should have pulled up just because Campbell was looking the other way. Clearly, that is not the answer. But there is a right way and a wrong way to hit someone. Ott’s hit crossed that line. I’m all for the big, open ice hits. The Scott Stevens type hits on Paul Kariya or Eric Lindros. But head shots like this are becoming a common occurence in the NHL that needs to be dealt with, as has been voiced on this very site. Steve Ott was suspended for one game earlier this month for gouging Travis Moen’s eye after a fight. This hit just adds to the reputation Ott has acquired. One would think the league office is having a look at this, with another suspension possible. The NHL has a harsh stance on repeat offenders.