The San Jose Sharks are now 6-0-0 in this young NHL season, thanks to a 6-2 thumping of the St. Louis Blues. Unfortunately for San Jose, they weren’t in much of a celebratory mood, thanks to having to watch defenseman Dan Boyle be carried off the ice on a stretcher.
Boyle was playing the puck in the corner when Blues forward Maxim Lapierre came up from behind with a vicious hit that sent Boyle’s head into the lip of the boards. He lay unconscious and motionless on the ice while several Sharks attempted to make Lapierre pay for his actions. Lapierre owned up to his hit by trying to hide behind one of the refs.
For what its worth, Boyle is said to be doing fine. He stayed in the hospital overnight, but mostly for precautionary reasons. He is said to be returning to San Jose today to get further evaluation. According to ESPN‘s Pierre LeBrun, Boyle responded to a text, saying, “I’m doing OK, thank you for your concern and support… Means a lot to me. I’ve never once taken this game or any of my fans for granted. Hope to be back soon.” A very classy response after what could’ve been a career threatening moment.
For the opposite of classy, let’s get back to Lapierre. Facts are facts; the hit was illegal, as it came from behind and appeared to occur after Boyle passed the puck away. Any sort of hit from behind that close to the boards is a beyond dangerous play. It was announced today that he will indeed have an in-person meeting with the NHL and league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. “In-person” almost always results in suspensions, so the question is likely not “if” Lapierre gets suspended, but instead “how many games?”
What’s more, there are a couple actions from Lapierre that may have just tossed gas on the fire. First of all, replays appear to show him smirking as he skated away from the post-hit scrum. The peril of Boyle’s on-ice condition was more than apparent by this time, so one has to think he saw it for himself. To see that and react with a smile is borderline offensive.
However, if Sharks’ forward Logan Couture is to be believed, Lapierre was also chirping San Jose, claiming he was going to try and take them out.
“After the first shift he’s yelling at us from their bench he’s coming after us, then he does that. It’s pretty gutless,” Couture told reporters after the game. “Then he turtles. Be a man if you’re going to make a hit like that. Fight someone. Don’t turtle. Ran right behind the linesman. Nothing else to say about that.”
This can’t technically be used as evidence during Lapierre’s hearing, due to its he-said-she-said nature. However, its also a bit of a leap to assume Couture just made up the idea that Lapierre was threatening the Blues.
As mentioned, Lapierre will undoubtedly serve time for this. One has to think the Sharks are hoping he’s back on the ice next time they face the Blues. The target on his back is sure to be gigantic.