Niklas Kronwall's flattening of Anaheim's Teemu Selanne on Satruday sparked a lot of outrage from Ducks players and coaches. But Red Wings coach Mike Babcock sees it differently.
"To say he’s a dirty player is wrong," Babcock said. "To say he’s dangerous to the opposition at times when he steps up, there’s no question. That’s a fair statement."
Selanne was outraged by the hit, calling Kronwall "dangerous," also saying that someone will "get him" someday. Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said Kronwall "jumped and went for the head," which is not at all what happened if you watch the replay.
Around these parts, them's fightin' words, boy. Is Darren McCarty still under contract?
The Red Wings and Ducks have drastically different takes on the hit for obvious reasons. But was it truly a dirty hit, and if so was it necessary? Writer Nicholas J. Cotsonika ponders the very thought:
Even if his hit on Selanne were legal, should Kronwall have passed it up? Selanne’s head was down. Some say players need to show more respect for each other, but others say players have a responsibility to protect themselves. And how is Kronwall supposed to process that moral dilemma in a split-second? If he hits Selanne, he could hurt him. If he doesn’t, he could hurt his team.
I tend to agree with the later part of the agreement. If Kronwall goes for the puck and not the hit, there's a chance he misplays the situation and Selanne moves the play into the Detroit zone. By playing the body - legally, mind you - Kronwall separated Selanne from the puck and was able to keep the Red Wings on the attack.
And let's say that Kronwall did jump (judging from the tape it looks like his feet were on the ice when he made contact, then left the ice during the follow-through). While still a no-no, he basically hit Selanne from a stationary position and led with his shoulder; not a violent open ice rush like we've seen in the past from Kronwall. Illegal, sure. Suspend-able, no.
Kronwall says he won't change his game, but if he gets suspended for a future hit he will re-evaluate his playing style.
"As far as my game, I’m going to try to stay the same as much as possible," Kronwall said. "If I get a suspension, then we’ll look at it from there. If there’s a bad hit, obviously you have to look at it and see what you can do differently. … I don’t think I’m the same kind of player anymore if I’m going out there and being hesitant."