Friday, December 28, 2012

On the Anthony Camara hit

There was some discussion on the legality of the Anthony Camara hit on Patrik Luza from last night's Canada-Slovakia game. For convenience, take a look at it here:

As you can see, Camara does glide into the zone to cut off the breakout, but he's not going in hard in a straight line; he cuts right, then left, thinking to cut off the pass up the boards. As he sees that the Slovak player isn't moving the puck, he glides in for the hit. Note that he doesn't take extra strides; he basically coasts in, and not at an especially high speed. At contact, he doesn't leave his feet.

The play is not a charge. The 'distance travelled' shouldn't include Camara's path to the boards, where he's cutting off a passing lane. It should start counting only once he starts moving to make a hit. A charge is a straight-line action, not the sum total of an entire path skated.

As the TSN crew pointed out, no arms went up on the play, and the refs seemingly made the call after the fact, perhaps influenced by the resulting injury rather than the play itself. I was disappointed in the call - and apparently the IIHF didn't like it either, as they decided to not hold a discipline hearing (which, for them, is nearly always held when a player gets a game misconduct).

What I do notice, though, is that Camara's shoulder clearly contacts directly to Luza's head. It's hard to fault Camara for seeing a guy with his head down and hitting him; Camara didn't hit him at especially high speed, and he didn't raise an elbow (as JC Lipon did, and was rightly called for, earlier in the game) or leave his feet. Camara's contact to Luza's head could perhaps be excused by calling this a 'full-body hit', as Brendan Shanahan is fond of describing such hits.

That said, I think this is a hit we should eliminate from hockey. Camara didn't actively try to hit the head, but he's the one person able to prevent an injury to Luza. I'd like to see a rule change to put an onus on Camara to avoid head contact if possible; I realize that it's difficult for him to anticipate that Luza will turn his head right into the shoulder at the crucial moment, and further problematic that Luza clearly checks over his shoulder and knows that Camara's in the area. But we should have a more serious discussion about whether we can do more to prevent major injuries from these sorts of hits.

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