Mueller injured after ‘questionable’ hit by Blake
[Updated: Check after the jump for screen caps of the hit]
The big Colorado Avalanche victory last night over the San Jose Sharks -- in which the Avs came back from a two-goal deficit, allowed two late goals and then won in overtime -- is tainted a bit as the team waits on word on the condition of Peter Mueller.
Mueller was injured late in the third period when Rob Blake pasted him into the boards, who says it was just a normal play. From Adrian Dater of the Denver Post:
“I haven’t seen it, but I didn’t think it was too bad,” said Blake, a former Avalanche defenseman. “We were both going in there together and there were no elbows or anything like that.
“I haven’t seen it, and it happens quick, so hopefully he’s all right. I don’t want to see anyone get hurt by any means.”
Of course, Avalanche fans are calling the hit a cheap shot by Blake. It’s a hit that certainly rides the fence on being illegal, but it was from the side (although Mueller had no clue it was coming), but it was a few feet from the boards and the puck had not come close to either player yet.
As much as I want the players to stay safe on the ice, I still want this to be a physical game. Injuries are going to happen when hockey is played, and big hits are going to happen. If this hit occurred 18 inches closer to the boards, then we wouldn’t be talking about it today. It was shoulder to shoulder, from one big, strong hockey player to a smaller one. If a penalty was called for, it would be interference for Blake hitting Mueller before the puck came around to him. Was it a cheap, uncalled for hit? No.
What will be interesting is to see how the NHL handles such a hit. Since it came 3-4 feet from the boards, on a hit you normally see right along the glass, the outcome was much more severe that what you normally see. And if Mueller hadn’t gone so awkwardly into the boards and got up and skated away, then nothing happens. I doubt we talk about it.
But the NHL wants to crack down on such hits, so there may be a suspension. That Mueller was injured goes against Blake. This is hockey, some players are bigger than others and we can’t just cry foul over every single big hit. It wasn’t from behind, just early and bit unnecessary.
We’ll update you on Mueller’s status when we learn more later today.
Since there’s no video of this hit anywhere just yet, here are some screen caps of what happened.
Here you can see Blake and Mueller going for the puck. Both are pretty much shoulder to shoulder, with Mueller having position on Blake. You can also see Blake getting ready to make the hit, as he comes from the side and bit to the rear of Mueller. Notice how far away the puck is. This is the biggest issue with the hit.
This is right as Blake makes the hit, sending Mueller off balance. Four feet from the boards, with the puck no where near the players. I still don’t believe it to be a dirty or ‘classless’ hit, but it’s certainly one the NHL will take a look at.
Blake extending his arm after the hit. Danger close.
Suspension worthy? What’s your call?