Dirty hits in contact sports aren't easy to label because the name of the game for these players is hard contact and controlling the pace of play. During the second period of Thursday's game against the Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues forward aka John Rambo Vladimir Tarasenko was knocked the fuck out by Ducks center Shawn Horcoff. Tarasenko left the game to a sea of gasps and the question remained. Was Shawn a whore here? Did he illegally deck the Blues star or was it just good old time hockey?
After watching the play about 60 times on my FSM replay, I can tell you it was not dirty but it sure comes close.
In the play, Tarasenko gathers the puck from behind the net and dishes it out along the boards when Horcoff comes in and lays an elbow into what appears at first to be Tarasenko's head. When you watch the many angles of the play, you can see the elbow lands in the upper chest area and not the head. Is there malicious intent here? Sure, but I don't think he was trying to take the Russian's head off. He was basically finishing a hit. This is like the many cases in football where the defensive end runs in on the quarterback right as the ball is released and finishes his hit and gets a penalty.
The knee to knee contact also makes you pause and think about the intent, but Horcoff didn't leave his feet to take Tarasenko out. He had one knee down and the left knee connects with the winger's knee before Vladi hit the ice. If we are talking punishment here, Horcoff shouldn't get an ear taken off by Mr. Blonde from Reservoir Dogs but maybe a punch to the gut from David Backes, the captain who can't seem to find the back of the net through 10 games.
Undoubtedly, the NHL will look at the play and determine if Horcoff had bitchy intentions, but I think they let him walk. He has no priors here and didn't like a rebel without a cause. If he had skated across ice and left his feet James Harrison style, there could be a war being started. It was a clean hard hit and not a dirty one with an intent to injure.
Every year, when I watch Tarasenko run behind the boards and throw his shoulders around, I get nervous. This is our franchise player. Our Han Solo. Our dynamic swordsman and I will be damned if some mountain tries to crush his head. The kid is fearless and that's good for the game and hard on Blues fans.
At least he isn't like Chris Stewart, who went from devilishly good once upon a time with the Blues to remotely shitty years later. All he can do now is sneer with his Gary Oldman from True Romance facial hair and try to be tough. We got a ginger who is more useful than that my friend. I'm going off topic here, but if you haven't gotten that part of my writing arsenal by now, you may be blind.
A few more things. Let two guys fight. If I see a referee get between two guys who want to talk with their fists, I am going to pour hot coffee down their back and tell them there is no more toilet paper inside. Why does fighting have to be obsolete? It's PART of the game. Alright, that's my one bark.
In case you wanted to see the Tarasenko hit, here it is. You be the judge and jury and tell me in the comments section what you think. Until next time, happy stick tapping.