Video Room: Analyzing Alex Killorn’s Hit on Paul Ranger

Alex Killorn, Paul Ranger, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL, Hockey, Injury, Suspension
Paul Ranger was taken to hospital after being hit by Lightning forward Alex Killorn. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

The talk surrounding hockey safety will be at the forefront again – at least for a couple of days – after the game between Tampa Bay and Toronto saw Paul Ranger taken off the ice on a stretcher. The injury was suffered after a questionable hit by Lightning forward Alex Killorn with 4.1 seconds left in the first period.

Now, the hit will surely be called questionable by many because there’s differing opinions regarding the play. Some say Ranger turned – which can certainly be argued – while others say that Killorn’s hit was undoubtably avoidable.

Either way, it’s a play that will be looked at over and over again. Here, we’ll take a closer look at Killorn’s hit as well as Ranger’s change in direction that left the big defenseman vulnerable and defenceless.

In the replay, it’s obvious that Ranger took a glance over his shoulder at the clock. It’s also clear that he shifted his direction. While his intention was to fool the oncoming Lightning forechecker, he changed directions just as Killorn made the commitment to lay the check.

The ‘Bear Hug’ Debate

However, this is where the argument becomes more debatable and it depends on where you stand on player safety. These are the kind of hits that have caused numerous injuries over the years. They’re the hits that inspired Brian Burke’s rant on ‘the bear hug’ along the boards.

“The most flagellant situations for me is one where a forward makes a hard pivot and comes right back into the track of the defenseman,” said Burke, the former Maple Leafs general manager, in an article by Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski. He’s gotta finish that hit and when he does sometimes that player is propelled like a billiard ball. Give the defenseman the chance to go in there with him [and] avoid a potentially catastrophic injury.”

But regardless of the process, a solution needs to be found. Martin Biron said on TSN during the intermission that the player making the hit – in this case Killorn – shouldn’t need to make a game changing hit with under five seconds left in the game.

Alex Killorn, Paul Ranger, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL, Hockey, Injury, Suspension
Will Alex Killorn see supplemental discipline for his hit on Paul Ranger? (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Bone Crushing Hit Versus Simple Physical Play

In fact, the players seem to come in harder and with more force. Is there no penalty anymore for charging – taking those three or four strides before making a hit? A player has to be ready to let up if their prey is in a vulnerable position – whether it’s their fault or not.

So there’s two schools of thought surrounding plays like the Killorn-Ranger incident. First, players have to refrain from putting themselves in such vulnerable positions. But the other player, the hitter, has to anticipate a turn or a change in the direction.

So is it a play that could see Killorn suspended? The fact is, Ranger was taken to hospital with an injury. The presence of a stretcher certainly doesn’t help. And while Killorn hit him in a vulnerable position some would question if there was any fault on the play. But looking at similar plays with similar outcomes, the Department of Player Safety could come down on the Lightning forward.

UPDATE: Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn will not face supplemental discipline for his hit on Toronto’s Paul Ranger.

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2 thoughts on “Video Room: Analyzing Alex Killorn’s Hit on Paul Ranger”

  1. There’s a difference between making a stop, which involves turning at the hips, and turning your back on the hit. Killorn was staring down Ranger’s numbers the whole way. So the apologists and Leaf-bashers blame this on Ranger, but if it had been Phaneuf they’d be calling for blood. Lupul, Clarkson, etc. have been suspended for petty nothings compared to this and nobody bats an eye.

    • Alfred – thank you for your response. In all honesty, it’s a hard call to make. Either way you go, you have disgruntled fans and teams. I don’t think there was any fault in the matter rather just two players that ended up in bad situations. Killorn doesn’t have a history of violence which surely played a role in his innocence. Ranger, however, has a history of concussions which could have also played a role in his injury. It’s hard to tell. But I appreciate your words and opinion and thank you for staying in touch with your beloved Leafs!

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