On Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena, Nashville was trailing the Toronto Maple Leafs by two goals late in the third period of a game that they would eventually lose 4-0.
At 13:18 of the third period, Mike Fisher chased Toronto’s Cody Franson along the boards next to the Toronto bench. As they reached the glass, Fisher gave Franson a push, sending Franson into the stanchion.
Prior to the 2011-12 season, the stanchions were redesigned into curved glass which was designed to absorb impact and, hopefully, reduce concussions. Regardless of the safety innovations, Franson laid on the ice for several seconds until finally getting up and heading down the Toronto tunnel.
Fisher was assessed a 5-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct – a penalty with which he disagreed.
“It’s just a hockey play,” Fisher said. “First of all, I hope he is okay. Obviously, I felt bad he got hurt, but it was kind of just a play where we went into the glass. There was obviously no intent at all. I was very surprised to get a penalty. I didn’t feel it was a penalty.”
Rule 41 of the NHL Rulebook is specifically about boarding. The rule states that a boarding penalty occurs when “imposed on any player or goalkeeper who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently in the boards.” In addition, the rule states that the “severity of the penalty, based upon the impact with the boards, shall be at the discretion of the Referee.” The rule also cautions that “in determining whether such contact could have been avoided, the circumstances of the check, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the check or whether the check was unavoidable can be considered.”
Essentially, the referees determined that due to the circumstances of the hit, a boarding penalty had occurred.
Fisher, however, expects no supplementary discipline from the NHL, as he feels that no penalty occurred.
“If you look at it, it’s not a penalty,” Fisher said. “Hopefully, he is alright – it’s one of things that’s unfortunate.”
“I didn’t think it was a vicious hit,” Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. “I just think it was the location when you’re by the benches there. Fisher gave him a bit of a push, but they were both trying to get to the puck and he gave him a bit of a push.”
At the time of the penalty, Nashville was trailing Toronto by 2, but was throwing a barrage of shots at Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier. The team could have easily come back into the game with one goal, but the 5-minute major at the end of the game essentially halted all momentum. Toronto would score 2 goals in the ensuing power play.
“Anytime you get a five-minute penalty with six-minutes to go it’s going to change things a little bit,” Colin Wilson said. “They got the two goals off it and changed the momentum. It’s unfortunate, but Fisher is just playing hard, so we can’t blame him for anything.”
Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua
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