Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Prust v. Moore: Why They Are Different

Some are saying that John Moore's hit on Dale Weise is the same as Brandon Prust's hit on Derek Stepan. 

While both hits were dirty and unacceptable, they are in fact different from the vantage point of the NHL.

Rule 48.1 of the NHL Rule Book is key when making this distinction. It provides as follows:
Illegal Check to the Head – A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable is not permitted.
When Prust delivered his hit on Stepan, the "main point of contact" was not Stepan's head (watch the GIF here). Rather, contact was made with the upper chest area and the jaw area. It may be seen as an issue of semantics, but "main" (or as previously referred to as "principal") means "chief" or "prime" point of contact. It cannot be said that Stepan's head was the main point of contact - even though it was a point of contact. Was the hit dangerous and unnecessary? Yes. Was the head the main point of contact? No.

So that's why in the NHL's suspension video, the hit was described as "significant head contact" but not "main" head contact. That resulted in a 2 game suspension for interference (which did seem a bit light given the lateness of the hit and the ensuing injury).

On the other hand, the "main point of contact" was Weise's head on the Moore hit. It's tough to see it any other way (watch a GIF here). Moore hit Weise square in the head. For that reason, expect this hit to be treated differently and possibly end with a longer suspension than that of Prust. Somewhere around 3 games. Two games, though, would not be a surprise since the league historically values playoffs games higher than regular season games.

With the fine distinction being made, are we splitting neurons? Maybe - but that's how it's interpreted at the league level.