Philadelphia Flyers de-facto captain, Claude Giroux and France’s, Sacha Treille were both recently suspended for blatantly targeting the head with hits. Giroux’s was an act of frustration, as he fell victim to his emotions and a lack of control when his team needed him most. Now, facing elimination in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, he is unable to help his team where he is needed most, on the ice. He received only a 1 game ban for this, but it is a very important game. Sidenote: New Jersey has never lost a series they have lead by a 3 games to 1 margin.
Sasha Treille’s head hit looked very bad right away as the elbow looks to make direct contact with Roman Starchenko of Kazakhstan’s head. Starchenko was knocked out immediately but did leave the ice on his feet and stayed on the bench instead of being taken immediately to the dressing room. He won’t return to play in the tournament and neither will Treille, either.
This brings me to something I have been thinking on the last days. Being based in Europe the head shot issue in hockey is not near as magnified as it is in North America. Of course the big ice helps, less opportunities to hit due to the dimensions of the playing surface. Contrary to popular opinion high-level European hockey is still very physical and there is plenty of hitting. The media hasn’t seemed to blow it up like it has in Canada and the US. This is also due to the fact that the sun does not rise and set with hockey like it is in Canada.
Claude Giroux is a product of the Canadian hockey system, thru and thru, minor, junior, AHL, NHL. His comment after the hit was he was finishing his check, “a hockey play.” Yes, he finished his check, no that is not a “hockey play.” It was a selfish act of taking his anger out on an unsuspecting opponent and making shoulder to head contact, possibly late, since the puck had been dumped and the period was about to end. In his mind and worse possibly still he is of the opinion that he did nothing wrong.
Sasha Treille, was raised in Grenoble, France, played his minor hockey there, with Cdn coaching influence, moved to Sweden for 2 years and has played the last 2 seasons in the Czech Extra League and is under contract with Sparta Praha for 2 more seasons. A very different hockey make up, very influenced by the French system with tid-bits of other hockey power nations culture and playing styles. After his hit he skates to bench and looks like he is saying/thinking, what was I supposed to do he skated right into me?
Two players, aged 24, fully developed but not at the peak of their capabilities I hope. Treille is a big man, 6’5″, 212 and I agree with what his look said to me, the Kazak player set his buddy, Starchenko, up for disaster with his pass, a suicide pass. Treille read the play and stepped up to make the hit, Starchenko side stepped ever so slightly and that put his head into Treille’s elbow as Treille adjusted his arm position to make contact and not get blown by.
Giroux is the leader of his team and with his actions, he let his teammates down and while I am a big fan of him as a skilled player, he let me down also. Treille was a big part of the French team, a player who is playing outside his country in one of the top leagues in Europe. He was to be counted on to help his team avoid relegation. He let his teammates down also. It is yet to be determined what wil happen to these 2 players teams while I can only hope these 2 young players can learn from their own mistakes and will think a little further about their actions before and during the next time they are out on the ice. That’s the only way the game will improve safety and respectability-wise. Keep learning from our mistakes and promoting the change in thinking of what a correct “hockey play” is.