Read Rule 48 – and suspend Alexander Edler

Matt Larkin
hertl edler

Dust off your Rule 48 scrolls, everyone. It’s time for another head shot debate. And it involves a San Jose Shark for the umpteenth time since the start of last season.

This time, it’s a Shark on the receiving end. Sizzling rookie Tomas Hertl, fresh off his four-goal bonanza, had his game, er, disrespected by Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler last night. It’s a borderline hit sure to ignite arguments for and against a suspension:

I’ve already read several opinions saying the hit is clean because (a) Hertl leans forward, exposing his noggin and (b) Edler hardly moves and does not actively target Hertl’s head.

I’m throwing a flag on this one.

It shouldn’t matter if Hertl is leaning forward if he’s doing so long enough that Edler has plenty of time to avoid Hertl’s head, which he does here. Secondly, failing to target isn’t good enough. Edler makes no effort to get out of the way. It’s like Christian Bale’s line to Liam Neeson in Batman Begins: “I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you.” Batman doesn’t break his code, but is still clearly responsible for Ra’s al Ghul’s demise.

And for everyone saying Edler doesn’t move, and is simply retrieving the puck, look again. Edler doesn’t take a direct path to the puck. He detours slightly to meet Hertl and makes direct contact with the head.

Let’s remember the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association’s agreed-upon redefinition of Rule 48:

“A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable.”

Was Edler maliciously attacking Hertl’s head? It doesn’t appear so. But the head was the main point of contact and it was avoidable. Edler violated Rule 48, so this is an open-and-shut case to me, even if it doesn’t warrant a lengthy ban.

Judge Shanahan, the prosecution rests.