In what was easily one of the most lopsided games of this young NHL season, the San Jose Sharks absolutely annihilated the New York Rangers last night to the tune of 9-2. The big story from the night was the emergence of Tomas Hertl, San Jose’s 19-year-old Czech sensation. The rookie scored an astounding four goals, including a filthy behind-the-back shot that left Rangers goalie Martin Biron in the dust.
Lost in all of this, though, was a hit that Sharks’ defenseman Brad Stuart dealt to New York star Rick Nash early in the first period. Stuart came in on Nash after the winger passed the puck on and landed a hard shot. Though Nash stayed on his feet, he was clearly shaken up, causing a stoppage in play.
Replays indicated that, despite no clear evidence of an elbow – which was the penalty Stuart received – it definitely appears he caught Nash in the head. Nash stuck around for a few more minutes before heading back to the locker room. He didn’t return for the rest of the game.
Despite it not being a severe hit, the league’s sensitivity to any and all headshots has led to a hearing scheduled between Stuart and the NHL Department of Player Safety. League disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan has often been strict when it comes to his rulings on headshots. However, this may be tough to judge. Yes, it certainly looks like contact was made with Nash’s head, but was it severe enough to warrant a suspension?
If you’re looking for someone to clear up the gray area on whether or not it was a shot to the head, Nash will be more than happy to clarify. Speaking with reporters, he claimed there was no doubt about the hit, which is also leaving him a little worse for wear at the moment.
“I have a headache, it got worse. It was a head shot. I’m concerned the way it feels…You’re concerned any time there’s a head shot,” he said. “Anytime you get a head shot you are concerned, you feel the way that it feels. It’s not a good feeling.”
For the Rangers, this is hardly good news. Its one thing to get destroyed 9-2, its another to potentially lose your biggest star for any significant amount of time. Sitting at 1-2, new coach Alain Vigneault already has enough to deal with. If Nash misses more than a few games, his time in New York is going to get off to a more than miserable start.