Late in the second period of Saturday’s Flyers – Panthers contest, Mike Richards did his best Scott Stevens impression, colliding with Florida’s David Booth on the blue line, knocking the 24-year-old out cold.
Richards received a 5-minute major for interference and a game misconduct which is automatically looked at by the league discipline office. Many in Philadelphia saw the hit as clean, as Richards didn’t raise his elbow or leave his feet prior to contact.
“We’re very hopeful he will be okay,” Stevens said of Booth during the post-game press conference. “I don’t know (if he’ll be suspended), but Richie is concerned. Richards is an honest hockey player and at full speed it’s a bang-bang play. Richards has as much integrity for the game as anyone playing.
“Mike Richards is not a dirty player and there is no intent there. He doesn’t try to hurt people when he plays the game, he’s just back checking through the middle.”
However, the Florida announcers and general manager were livid at the violent hit, calling for suspension.
“I didn’t see the hit live. I was making a note on my game report, but I knew when they didn’t show the replay it wasn’t pretty,” Florida GM Randy Sexton said. “Ultimately, they showed the replay. The league will be doing a full review. Those types of hits have no place in the game. We’ve talked about it. The league wants to get those head type of hits out of the game.”
The hit was violent but violence does not mean it’s illegal.
Many believe that the question is not whether Richards will receive a suspension but how many games. Although NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell, does not typically judge fairly when it comes to the Orange and Black, Richards’ hit is on par with Dion Phaneuf’s hit in the preseason, where the big blue liner dismembered Islanders’ forward Kyle Okposo.
Phaneuf earned a major and game misconduct, but he did not receive a suspension after league review.
And neither should Richards.