SOUND OFF: Wingers Gone Wild; Lucic Administers Brutal Blow on Ryan Miller

Milan Lucic delivered a devastating strike to Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres. The blow shown in the video above left Ryan Miller concussed and out indefinitely. The Sabres will have to rely on backup Jhonas Enroth and recently promoted Drew MacIntyre. Lucic only received a minor penalty for the hit, but Sabres fans and others around the league are calling for much more.

  • Should hits like this result in a suspension?
  • Should the NHL institute rules that protect goalies from hits like these, much like the NFL protects Quarterbacks?
  • Was this a “gutless” hit or just an example of hard, tough play?

Weigh in after the break, puckheads. UPDATED 4:00pm EST

In Saturday’s Bruins-Sabres matchup, fans saw the Northeast division rivals play a hard-hitting (though lopsided) game. No hit in the game was harder than the one received by Ryan Miller. Wait? Ryan Miller? The goalie? Yes. In the first, Ryan Miller, in an attempt to take away the breakaway, was leveled by Boston winger Milan Lucic. The truly brutal hit sent Miller’s mask flying as he rag-dolled to the ice. After a brief skirmish between the two teams, Miller returned between the pipes for a bit longer before leaving the game in the second saving only 19 of 22.

The team revealed after the game that Miller did in fact suffer a concussion and would be out indefinitely. Miller (in a concussed haze, I’m sure) called the play “unbelievable” and “gutless,” but stopped short of suggesting any further discipline for Lucic. Buffalo coach, Lindy Ruff, suggested, “if it was open season on goalies, then let’s get at it.” Buffalo’s GM, Darcy Regier, and many others around the league are calling for Lucic’s suspension. It appears the league is willing at least entertain the thought and has called for a hearing this afternoon.

So what are your thoughts? Is this tough play or gutless? Should rules be enacted to protect goalies? If not, does that mean “open season” on goalies? How much does it cost for my goalie hunting license? Sound off in the comments.

UPDATE: Milan Lucic will not receive any further discipline for his hit on Miller. Brendan Shanahan, the Senior VP of Player Saftey for the NHL said, “while it is unfortunate that Miller was hurt, I saw nothing egregious about this hit that would elevate it to supplemental discipline.” Shanahan cited Lucic intent on the play and that Lucic did not have time to avoid a collision. Shanahan spoke with Lucic personally and said, “I was satifisfied with his answers.” There does not appear to be a time table for Miller’s return. The Sabres have confirmed he will not play tonight in Montreal.

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12 thoughts on “SOUND OFF: Wingers Gone Wild; Lucic Administers Brutal Blow on Ryan Miller

  1. Nate says:

    If Miller can take away the breakaway than Lucic can hit him.. simple as that.

  2. Jon says:

    Nate: Not quite right.

    There are rules to this kind of thing. Rule 61.2 to be exact.

    61.2 Penalty – In all cases in which an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, whether or not the goalkeeper is inside or outside the goal crease, and whether or not a goal is scored, the attacking player will receive a penalty (minor or major, as the Referee deems appropriate). In all cases where the infraction being imposed is to the attacking player for hindering the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely in his goal crease, the penalty to be assessed is for goalkeeper interference.

    In exercising his judgment, the Referee should give more significant consideration to the degree and nature of the contact with the goalkeeper than to the exact location of the goalkeeper at the time of the contact.

    Also, a section of 69.4:
    A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.

    There was no reasonable effort on Lucic’s part to avoid contact. He was charging, simple as that.

    I think that answers pretty much every question about the situation, except for the further punishment aspect. I personally have high regard for netminders and anyone who takes one out of the game with a concussion should be punished for it. It could be argued that it’s part of the game but I think goalies are in a class of their own and need to be treated with respect on the ice, inside or outside of the crease.

  3. Travis says:

    Once the goalie leaves the crease he should be treated like every other player on the ice. If that was any other player other than a goalie would he be suspended? fined? penalized? based on the leagues answer to that would be my answer.

  4. supbaru says:

    what an unbiased article. “brutal” and “devastating” before the first ‘.’. you also skipped over that miller called lucic, “a piece of [excrement],” twice and that he tried to take out lucic’s ankle swinging his club like a sickle.
    jon is right in that there is no time that a goalie is “fair game”. i don’t think lucic could’ve completely avoided un-incidental contact. but he he hit miller harder than he needed to. it was out of the crease so it’s not goalie interference but he was definitely getting a penalty. i’d guess the ref only gave him a minor in recognition that it was a race for a loose puck in a scoring opportunity and that miller had played it poorly, leaving himself particularly vulnerable, and unexpectedly so. i could see a game or two suspension based on the consequence, but really buffalo is better off with enroth anyway. as for ruff, he was probably more pissed that his players wimped out.

    • Bob Gurnett says:

      I stand by those words as not being terribly biased but descriptive of the hit you see in the video. Also, as far as devastating, it is to the Sabres as they will have to use their backup and an AHL call-up until Miller is back. I am honestly torn. As a fan, I hate to see players get injured, but also feel that if he leaves the crease, he deserves what happens to him. I would absolutely HATE to see the NHL put in goalie protection rules the the No Fun League has for QBs. At the same time though, that contact did seem more than incidental. I am actually really interested to see what the league does.

      You have to remember, as an NBA fan, any hit is going to be even more brutal and devastating to me. I come from a sport where slapping someone on the arm is a foul.

    • Erika says:

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  5. Joshua says:

    I just wonder if he hadn’t been injured if there would even be a hearing. I know the league is trying to do something about concussions, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a suspension is handed out solely because of that.

  6. I was kind of astounded by the casual way Miller came out to cut off the fast break. Lucic definitely deserved the charging call, that’s obviously the rule he violated, but Miller seems to have gone out with the thought in mind that Lucic’s inability to attack him would give him an advantage for retaining possession of the puck. This is not the right way for ANY player in ANY professional sport to act, especially when concerning a rule that is designed to protect you, not give you an advantage.

    The hit was solid and clean. It was definitely a full speed hit but most players would not have been injured because they would have been conscious of the fact they are in open ice in contention of the puck where they might be hit, hard. They would also do their best to receive the hit/fall in a way that does not result in injury (if you look at many of the times punters/kickers are injured in Football, you can tell they handle collisions very differently than other players, in some cases, these specialists are protected, but in the off cases that they need to block/tackle/make contact with opposing players in any way, they really should have some practice and weight training that will help them avoid injury).

    In any event where the player appears to be taking advantage of a rule meant only for his protection, I cannot bring myself to agree that another player should be suspended for violating that rule. Let the referees handle it in-game.

  7. Mike Vamosi says:

    The hit was high by Lucic no doubt about that but at the same time Miller was out pretty far making him fair game in my opinion.

  8. C says:

    At that point, Lucic was beaten and would have no benefit from hitting Miller, but he raised his arm and elbow and leaned into it anyway. It would be one thing if they were racing to the boards for a puck, but Lucic HAD the puck, got beat and lost it, THEN hit Miller.

  9. Joe Tichy says:

    Could he have slowed down once Miller was out in no man’s land? Probably. This is a contact sport. I equate QBs in the NFL to the goaltender in hockey and the bigwigs in the NFL have ruined the sport with hit limitations all because little Tom Brady’s legs got blown out after a hit. Tough $hit. Although this is a rivalry, I’m sure Lucic’s intent was not to concuss Miller. Any athlete appreciates a good rivalry and wants their opponent’s best on the ice, court, or field. The league is not afraid of suspensions either as Ovechkin was suspended last season for driving Brian Campbell into the boards and breaking his collarbone. Lucic is and has been known as a three-way player, too. One who is capable of the near extinct Gordie Howe hat trick (a goal, assist, and a fight in one game). The game is lacking of these players and needs to have them back. The three-way player is sorely missed. Jarome Iginla was a fighter up until about four years ago and he has been one of the most prolific scorers in the league for the last ten years.

    It is unfortunate Miller suffered a concussion. His season hasn’t been spectacular, though, and Enroth is 6-0.

  10. Jon says:

    This story may be a few days old, but this is how you handle a breakaway like a boss. And get a tripping call. Like a boss.

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