After No Punishment for Hit On Crosby, Jacob Trouba Delivers Another Dirty Blow

Photo credit: Zuma Press

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During the Game 4 playoff matchup between the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes last night, Rangers' Jacob Trouba delivered a dirty blow to the head of Hurricanes forward Max Domi.  Domi was taken off his feet by the hit and sent headfirst into the boards.  While Domi was falling on the play, Trouba led with his signature chicken wing style, elbow first, hit.  

Pittsburgh Penguin fans were immediately reminded of a similar hit delivered to Sidney Crosby in Game 5 of the first round between the Pens and the Rangers.  The Pens had a 2-0 lead in the game and looking to finish the series.  Pittsburgh was flying that night and appeared to be the clear better team.  

However, the entire game changed when Trouba threw an elbow to Crosby's face in open ice.  The hit knocked Crosby out of the game.  He wouldn't return until Game 7.

Without their captain, the Rangers would mount a comeback against the Penguins in both the game and the series.  Anyone watching the series marks the hit as the clear turning point for the Rangers.  The Penguins momentum, and the crowd energy, was sucked out of the building as Crosby left the bench for the locker room.  

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Trouba was not penalized on the ice for the hit nor were any consequences levied by the NHL after the fact.  That is not uncommon as the NHL's Player Safety department rarely does anything to live up to its name.  So instead of having the best hockey player in the world on the ice for primetime hockey games, Trouba was free to continue to head hunt.  More than likely had a punishment been levied for the hit on Crosby, the hit last night on Domi never happens.  

Hockey is a brutal sport.  Guys are getting bounced around all over the ice.  However, it seems over time those who use dirty hits as a tactic tend to stand out among the legal enforcers of the game.  For example, Ryan Reaves delivers monster checks, but is never seen as dirty.  Instead, he's just an enforcer, and has stayed employed through serving that role.

However, guys like Jacob Trouba and, most notably, Washington Capitals' Tom Wilson, stand out as consistently delivering dirty hits.  There's always some excuse, like last night Domi falling to the ice as the hit was delivered.  While a guy falling doesn't justify leading with an elbow, it gives Trouba a convenient talking point in post-game press conferences.  

But why wouldn't a guy like Trouba continue to deliver these types of hits?  He essentially won the opening series against the Penguins by knocking Crosby out.  Also, if the NHL is going to condone the behavior by actively looking the other way, there is nothing to stop this from being an effective strategy.  While Trouba could show some moral compass and not try to injure his fellow coworkers, it's one of those "don't hate the player, hate the game" type things.  

Eventually the NHL will realize that enough people are hating the game, and despite their efforts to grow it, will never catch up to the other three major sports if hits like this remain with no repercussion.  It also hurts viewership to have the top players in the world knocked out, as they are the typical targets of such dirty hits.  The NHL has to do something or risk lawsuits like the NFL is facing for long-term effects of head injuries.  Where's Will Smith to make another Concussion movie when you need him?  Get him off stage slapping other comics, and get him in the studio, and fast.

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