Tuesday, October 28, 2008
My take on the Weight-Sutter incident
There's been a lot of commentary concerning Islanders center Doug Weight's nasty open-ice hit on Hurricanes rookie Brandon Sutter during the third period of Saturday night's game between the clubs on Long Island.
Here's my two cents:
• First and foremost, I hope young Mr. Sutter (he's just 19) doesn't suffer any lingering problems as a result of the hit. On the play, he suffered a concussion. It was serious enough to keep him in a Long Island hospital Saturday night. With these types of injuries, we just don't know how a person is going to respond. Sometimes, the injured player recovers quickly and completely. Other times, the player isn't so lucky. Above all else, I'll keep my fingers crossed that Sutter makes that quick and complete recovery. Without question, that is the most important element in this equation.
• Second, I thought it was a "clean" hit by NHL standards. If Sutter hadn't stretched out to get the puck -- thus lowering his head -- I doubt he would have suffered such a serious injury. I don't mean to blame the victim, but skaters have to protect themselves. In Sutter's case, that means keeping his head up. I feel bad even writing that, but it's a simple and sometime hard-learned lesson in a contact sport.
• Third, I did think Weight was looking to deliver a hard hit. There's nothing wrong with that. Weight has been known to be a skill player in this league for a long time. Certainly, he doesn't have a long history of what fans might call dirty play. That said, let's not live in a fantasy land. Weight is a competitive guy who has stepped over that line from time to time. I've seen him deliver what I remember to be a questionable hit or two during an impressive career. This is a tough, physical game. Guys don't stay in this league for a long time without being willing -- on occasion -- to send a message to their opponents. In the same vein, Weight has been on the other end of such physicality, too. For me, some players might be "dirtier" than others; but, in this league, no one is without sin.