Video: Upshall's suspension, the future of open-ice hits in NHL?

We mentioned in the Puck Headlines that Phoenix Coyotes forward Scottie Upshall was suspended for a game in the IIHF World Championships for a hit to the head during Canada's 9-0 win against Hungary on Sunday. Take a gander at the play in question:

From CTV:

The Phoenix Coyotes player was given a five minute major and a match penalty after catching Hungarian player Andras Benk with a hit to the head in the second period of the game. Benk reportedly suffered a broken collar bone on the play. Under IIHF rules, the match penalty carries with it an automatic one game suspension but there were concerns Upshall could have received further sanctions.

As Canwest pointed out, the IIHF standard for a hit like this is different than in the NHL: "International hockey does not permit what the NHL would term a ‘clean' head shot, so Upshall received a five-minute major plus a game misconduct."

If this hit conjured up images of the New York Islanders' Doug Weight's freight-training of Brandon Sutter of the Carolina Hurricanes this season, that's because they're nearly identical. As we said at the time: It was a brutal hit but a legal one, and ultimately it's a "hockey play."

Was Upshall's hit a charge? Perhaps. Would it have been a match penalty in the NHL? Nope. Should hits like this receive draconian supplemental discipline in the NHL? No, despite those who believe the NHL should be more in line with international standards on head shots.

Unlike some, Bob McKenzie of TSN is a thoughtful analyst when it comes to the issue of head-shots in the NHL. While Upshall's hit isn't on his radar in today's column, he does eloquently separate what are essentially hockey plays and what are egregious attempt to concuss an opponent. It's a commendable read on what remains a relevant issue in the League ... right, Donald?

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