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The Rush's case against O'Connor

RAPID CITY, S.D. -- OK, I haven't changed my mind on the Sean O'Connor hit that knocked Rush star Ryan Menei out of the Komets' 4-3 loss in Game 2 of the Turner Conference Semifinals on Saturday night, but I would like to present you the other side of the story.

If you would like to view the O'Connor hit, go here, and it's at the 2:27 mark of the first period. There's a video icon you can press.

The relevant rule, No. 48, states: "A lateral, back pressure or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principle point of contact, is not permitted."

I do not believe that this fits the criteria to a tee because, in my opinion, O'Connor neither targeted nor hit Menei's head. So is it a lateral hit that deserves punishment? I think it's iffy whether it was an egregious lateral or blindside hit, but I guess it doesn't say anywhere it has to be egregious.

It's a tough call, absolutely. I err on the side of giving O'Connor a pass. However, anyone who reads this blog knows I'm a little old school and I don't like that we're taking good hits out of the game, especially when this is a player with no track record for this sort of thing.

With that in mind, I guarantee you, this is the case the Rush has presented to the league in search of a suspension, and a suspension wouldn't surprise me at all:

A) O'Connor got off the bench in the middle, not at the doors, and that insinuated that he may have targeted Menei and that Menei didn't have adequate chance to avoid the hit.

B) O'Connor could have avoided the hit altogether -- and I really don't agree with this -- because he knew it would put Menei in an indefensible position, and he could have let his defenseman hit him from the front. (I find it hard to believe we can expect a player to pass up a hit.)

C) There is precedent at the NHL level for cracking down on this sort of hit. Look at this hit and at this hit, and read this, which states there is supposed to be a crackdown on these types of hits, which weren't drawing suspensions. I'm not entirely sure how relevant the Matt Cooke hit is, though, since it clearly was to the head.

D) The onus is on O'Connor to not injure a guy with a hit.

Anyway, that's the argument. What do you think?

For a recap of what O'Connor and the Rush had to say about the hit, click here.

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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