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Did Fisher’s hit on Kaleta warrant a misconduct?

Last night against the Buffalo Sabres late in the first period, Mike Fisher was given a five minute major for boarding on Patrick Kaleta and then given a game misconduct as well. It was similar to the hit by Alex Ovechkin on Brian Campbell (of course, it’s not getting as much attention nationally) but at the same time it wasn’t. It certainly didn’t appear on replays that Fisher had shoved Kaleta to the boards; in fact, Fisher claims Kaleta embellished the fall just a bit:

“I didn’t touch him. He should be playing soccer. I’m not going to criticize. It’s a tough call to make if you’re a ways away. I saw the replay and it was definitely a dive. He embarrassed himself.”

I’m not one to completely discredit someone who falls into the boards that hard. If Kaleta did a take dive there, it was an incredibly dumb thing to do; he was hurt on the play and didn’t return to the game didn’t return to the game until the third period. But was this truly a case of Fisher dangerously shoving Kaleta into the boards? Since doesn’t have the play on video, after the jump we go through a series of photos to try to make the determination.

Kaleta and Fisher were racing for the puck on an icing call, with Kaleta slowing down directly in front of Fisher. Fisher has his hands up in a natural position as he gets ready for what is most likely a violent crash into the boards.

Image (1) Fisher1-thumb-250x311-7929.jpg for post 521

It’s something you see all the time, especially as two players race to the puck. You can also see that Kaleta has the brakes on in full, while Fisher does not. This is similar in car race, where the car in front brakes quicker that the car on his bumper, creating a bump and spin out.

Image (2) Fisher2-thumb-250x297-7932.jpg for post 521

So the issue at hand is whether Fisher extended his hands out, and aided Kaleta to lose his balance and hit the boards. This is just a split second after the first picture, as Fisher’s left arm seems to be in almost the exact same position as before. Kaleta is already starting to brace himself, leaning forward.

Image (3) Fisher3-thumb-250x297-7935.jpg for post 521

Kaleta loses his balance and falls forward. He’s a good distance away from the boards, and it’s a violent collision. It’s not something you want to see. But Fishers left arm is still in almost the exact same position as before. We can’t get a good look at his right, but how much of a shove could he give him?

This really isn’t all that similar to Ovechkin’s hit, as the players involved were in two separate positions. Campbell and Ovechkin were racing for the puck, but Campbell came back around and in front of Ovechkin and was then hit. Kaleta and Fisher were racing side by side for the puck, with Kaleta getting front position on Fisher as they braced to touch up the puck.

Fisher certainly didn’t “hit” Kaleta, though there’s no doubt he had position directly behind him. Should Fisher be at fault for having his hand on Kaleta’s back, who then loses his balance and goes head first into the boards?

How about the NHL enforce no-touch icing, like everyone wants, so that we don’t have these type of ‘hits’ or falls any longer?