Originally posted on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 12/4/11

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 27: Mark Fistric #28 of the Dallas Stars warms up before the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on November 27, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Stars 5-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

By Alexander Monaghan

On a night with 12 games on the docket, it should come to no surprise that we have not only one, but two controversial hits. Regarding the Jordin Tootoo incident we took a more down-the-middle approach. However, the shoulder-to-head hit from Dallas Stars defender Mark Fistric is a bit more subjective than most.

New York Islanders forward Nino Niederreiter came breaking down the side boards at top speed and just received the puck. The right wing skated from his left to his right, receiving the puck at full speed and clearly did not see the physical defender. The hit could be construed as east-west but the defender was simply stepping up to the play. Niederreiter either did not see the defender at all or thought he could skate by him but it remains abundantly clear that he should have seen him on the ice — Fistric didn’t skate from the center of the ice to the boards, he was already on that side of the ice.

The game of hockey is incredibly fast as is Niederreiter so we can only assume he wasn’t expecting the hit. As much is clear considering the former Portland Winterhawk was unable to protect himself on the play.

As Fistric hit the Swiss right wing, he left his feet but it is unclear whether he jumped pre or post impact. Nevertheless, if he was actually leaving his feet prior to making contact he probably would have fallen differently. Then again, it could be argued that he did not make an attempt to get low enough on the hit. A lower angle would certainly guarantee no contact with the head. Fistric also could miss the hit altogether which would allow for an odd-man rush.

Not making that hit is not in Fistric’s vocabulary. It’s the type of game he plays. Despite playing in only 19 of the team’s 27 games he leads the team in that counting stat. He posted 173 hits last year in only 57 games and 171 hits over 67 games the year before that. The Stars pay him to hit and frankly not to do much more.

Although the Edmonton, Alberta has never been suspended there have been a few close calls with the law. He was almost suspended by hitting current teammate Eric Nystrom with his helmet during a fight when the latter played for the Minnesota Wild. He also concussed Detroit Red Wings power forward Johan Franzen with an elbow to the head, which went unpunished. He has a history of questionable play which probably leads to a suspension of some kind.

In addition, Niederreiter is believed to have a concussion which should further place the onus on Fistric. See for yourself, courtesy of Hockey Fights, and voice your opinion in the comments.

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