Canucks fans have been wanting Alex Edler to play a more physical game for years. He’s proven in the past, to Drew Doughty, for instance, that he can be an effective and devastating hitter, but he has been frustratingly inconsistent with that side of his game.
Edler is such a low-key guy that one of his defining traits is his ability to take a nap almost anywhere. That seems to seep into his play. He remains calm and relaxed on the ice, but never seems to get riled up enough to throw a big hit. He certainly never seems to get emotionally involved enough to get angry and throw a dirty check.
That’s why it was shocking to see him go knee-on-knee with Eric Staal during Team Sweden’s game against Team Canada at the World Championships. It was an ugly, ugly hit that will likely see Staal miss significant time and earn Edler a hefty suspension.
(Vine for now. Regrettably, the video has been taken down. I will try to find a replacement.)
I hate knee-on-knee hits. They can potentially end careers and seeing Staal writhing on the ice in obvious agony was difficult to watch.
It’s a hit that Edler simply can’t make. It’s also one that I don’t think he intended.
Most of the time what leads to a knee-on-knee hit is a player lining up a hit then, realizing he’s going to miss his target, sticking out his leg. One of the reasons we were so upset about David Porter’s knee-on-knee with David Booth last season was that Porter stuck his leg out and kept it out for a significant period of time.
The first half of the formula fits the Edler hit. He’s aiming to hit Staal square, but Staal jukes to the inside, bending over and removing the possibility of a shoulder-to-shoulder hit. At that point, Edler has to give up on the hit. And honestly, he seems to.
That’s the best screenshot I could capture of the moment of impact. It’s actually a little after, but it still illustrates my point. Edler doesn’t stick his leg out; he actually tucks it in, like he’s trying to step around Staal.
That said, he still hit him knee-on-knee and bears the responsibility for it and for the consequences of Staal’s injury. He absolutely deserves a suspension.
Edler received a 5-minute major and, under IIHF rules, every major penalty earns a game misconduct. Given how severe the injury appeared and the strictness of the IIHF, it’s entirely likely that Edler will be gone for the rest of the tournament. With how emotional Edler was as he left the ice, throwing his stick down the hall as he stormed off the ice, it’s likely Edler knows it too.Tags: alex edler, World Championship