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NHL sticks with two-minute minor for Lucic hit

blog by The Canisius Griffin  • 

On Nov. 12th, the Buffalo Sabres met with the Boston Bruins in Beantown. Early in the game, things took a turn for the ugly when 6-foot-4, 223-pound Bruins’ left-winger Milan Lucic made contact with Sabres’ goaltender Ryan Miller.

The hit sent Miller spinning, knocking his mask clean off his face, resulting in his second concussion in just eight months. Whether the hit was on purpose or just a series of unfortunate events will most likely remain as hazy as Miller’s memory after the first period of Saturday’s game, one thing is for sure: everyone has an opinion.

The anger over the hit, the weak support from the team on the ice, and the mere two-minute minor Lucic was hit with have left a sour taste in the mouth of Sabres fans. Everyone around the league is sounding off on the controversy, too.

Miller shared his anger with the league’s ruling: “I’m not going to be happy about it, but I’m not going to speak out against it.”  He got a little more heated when the topic of Lucic was brought up, saying, “Everyone in (Boston) sees him as a big, tough, solid player. I respected him for how hard he played. That was gutless. Gutless.” 

Following a meeting among the league’s 30 general managers on Nov. 15, the Tuesday after the hit, the consensus in the room was apparent:  The next player to approach a goalie playing outside their crease would face harsher punishment.

Sabres’ GM Darcy Regier shared his thoughts on meeting: “Based on our conversations in the room, I personally believe [he] would be [punished].” 

Brendan Shanahan, NHL disciplinarian, is listening to the GM’s complaints. “The general managers expressed to me the importance of all the players on the ice but also the extreme importance of the goaltender in that position.” 

The Sabres camp criticized Shanahan’s failure to issue a suspension, but the meeting seems to have sparked positive conversation.

That leaves Miller and the Sabres with a raw deal. Lucic refers to it as an “unavoidable collision,” as opposed to a purposeful hit. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask chimed in with his thoughts too, saying “everyone knows that was just an accident.” Sharing his experiences as a poor puck-handler, he noted “A lot of times you focus on that puck so much that you can’t see people coming at you.”

Miller’s brother and Detroit Red Wings forward Drew Miller has a decidedly different take. “It looks pretty bad, skating straight at him and hitting him,” he told reporters this week. 

Drew doesn’t think everyone’s out for blood following the hit though.“I think it’s more overreaction. I don’t think anyone’s going to go out and run goalies…you look back on the history of the league, you don’t see a lot of that stuff happen. That’s why there’s such a big reaction to it.”

Regardless of the rate of occurrence, stricter guidelines would prevent potentially season-ending hits like this from happening in the future. Miller remains out indefinitely with a concussion, but the league is moving forward. The Sabres head to Carolina to meet with the Hurricanes tonight – with Jhonas Enroth and his 6-1-0 record in between the posts.

By Sam Scarcello
The Griffin

TAGGED: canisius griffins, milan lucic, nhl hockey, ryan miller, sam scarcello

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