Martin Havlat left Wednesday’s game halfway through the first period for, since it’s the playoffs, undisclosed reasons. It didn’t take long, however, for the reason to become completely disclosed, causing male hockey fans everywhere to cringe in unison.
You see, according to Mike Halford from Pro Hockey Talk and David Pollak from the San Jose Mercury News, Kevin Bieksa speared Havlat in the groin. The NHL Network even has a video of the unfortunate moment, complete with a slow-motion replay.
Halford and Pollak are dead wrong, however. Bieksa definitely did not spear Havlat in the groin. Nope, not in the slightest. He quite clearly slashed him in the groin.
You can see the moment quite clearly in the video: as Bieksa is boxing out Havlat from the front of the net, he raises his stick into Havlat’s unmentionables, causing the Sharks’ winger to visibly cry out in pain. It’s possible that Bieksa was originally intending to lift Havlat’s stick or it’s possible that he was aiming for the groin all along, but either way, it’s not a spear.
Here is the definition of Spearing, Rule 62 from the official NHL Rules:
Spearing shall mean stabbing an opponent with the point of the stick blade, whether contact is made or not.
That’s because Bieksa didn’t hit Havlat with his stick blade. Instead, he hit Havlat with the shaft of his stick, lifting it right into the crux of Havlat’s hockey pants.
I’m sure that doesn’t make it hurt any less, of course, and it’s unlikely to assuage Sharks’ fans who are understandably upset at what they see as a dirty play. Still, specificity matters: spearing is a far more serious penalty than slashing.
Pollak somehow manages to misidentify it as something else entirely:
Taking the butt-end of the stick in that region, even with whatever protective equipment is in place, is likely to be at the very least, a painful experience and one can only hope the damage is superficial.
I’m sure it would be painful to take a butt-end to the groin, but that’s even less accurate than calling it a spear. The butt-end is on the opposite side from the blade and butt-ends are generally punished severely by the league.
Is it a dirty play? Yeah, it kind of is. I mean, I don’t think Bieksa intended to jam his stick into that location in order to hurt Havlat. I think he was just trying to tie him up to prevent him from getting to a potential rebound. Still, when you hit someone in the junk, getting labelled as a dirty player is pretty unavoidable.
Still, if Sharks fans are going to get upset about it, they should at least get upset about the right thing. It was a slash, not a spear. Now feel free to get back to complaining about it.
Tags: Kevin Bieksa