Many might not like how it happened but hopefully Ryan Miller received the figurative memo that Milan Lucic sent him last night. If the big Bruins forward was to actually have sent him one it likely would have read “Dear Ryan, sorry I hit you so hard but if you wanna come out and play the puck like a player then you better be prepared to be hit like a player.”
The hit that Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic layed on Sabres goalie Ryan Miller last night was not a cheap shot but one that could be skewered that way. The hit and the result are a product of NHL goalies being under the impression that they are immune from contact.
I’ve never understood when and why goaltenders came to the assumption that they are allowed to travel anywhere their little hearts desire on the ice and play the puck, yet feel that they are exempt from bearing the brunt of contact like everyone else.
When did goalies get the idea that the fans want to see them play the puck in the first place? With all due respect, goalies handling the puck is the last thing people want to see and the NHL has already implemented one rule that was created to try and prevent them from doing so.
Back in the “old” NHL when clutching and grabbing was not enforced the way it is today, defensemen would simply hold up the on-rushing forechecker and then guess what would happen? The forechecker would be unable to retrieve the dump-in and the goalie would easily go behind the net, stop the puck and play it to his defenseman who would then clear it, or if you were as adept at puck-handling as Martin Brodeur, you could even clear the puck yourself.
Puck goes in, puck goes out, puck goes in, puck goes out. Wow how exciting! (note the sarcasm)
That was the reason why the trapezoid was put in behind the net. Goalies being able to play the puck and help clear the zone became so bloody boring that the NHL actually made a rule change to stop it. So why then do NHL goaltenders continue to think they can wander wherever they please, make themselves a part of the game, but then expect to be treated like a porcelain doll?
No my friends it doesn’t work that way. And while the overbearing goalie protectors of the world will continue to cry foul over the body-check, and as much as Milan Lucic will be made out to be the bad guy; there was nothing wrong with what he did. The only thing wrong in this situation was the mentality of NHL goalies.
Now, it is certainly unfortunate that Miller has been announced to have suffered a concussion but it doesn’t change the fact that had he not gone out to play the puck with the idea that he was an “untouchable” player then this would have been avoided. He should have been braced for contact because no where in the rule book does it say that a goalie can’t be hit if they come far out of their crease.
It is a hard lesson to learn, but hopefully the next time a goalie decides that he is going to be his team’s third defenseman, he will have his head up and be prepared for a collision; just like he should be.
Harsh I know.
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.