Scary moment out of the Kings' split-squad preseason game in Phoenix yesterday. In the first period, Rostislav Klesla was on the receiving end of a brutal open-ice hit from Jordan Nolan. Klesla was taken off the ice on a stretcher; thankfully, he was alert, conscious, and moving (as shown by his thumbs-up to the crowd as he left the ice). Nolan was not penalized for the hit itself but went to the box for two minutes with Martin Hanzal following the ensuing scrum immediately after.
[UPDATE: Video of the hit is now available. Nolan will not face any supplemental discipline for the hit.]
There was plenty of immediate fallout from the hit on the ice. After Nolan exited the penalty box, Hanzal sought further retribution and threw an elbow at Nolan; it didn't really connect, but Nolan went down and was whistled for embellishment as Hanzal was penalized for the elbow. The resulting melee saw misconducts given to Daniel Carcillo, Derek Morris, and Nolan. Additionally, Paul Bissonnette jumped off the bench to fight Nolan; he was ejected, and has received a 10-game suspension for a violation of Rule 70.1.
We've got video now, but we'll leave the eyewitness accounts of the hit below for you to examine.
- Jon Rosen (LA Kings Insider):
Saw a replay of the Nolan hit. Springboarded towards Klesla; left his feet after hit. His shoulder appeared to catch Klesla under his chin.— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) September 16, 2013
- Craig Morgan (Fox Sports AZ): His full story is here, and it's worth a read. As for his opinion:
A replay of the hit showed Nolan clearly making first contact with Klesla's head under the chin and leaving his feet on the follow-through. The hit could be grounds for suspension under Rule 48. The only mitigating factor was that Klesla was skating with his head down (a possibly vulnerable position), but the angle of his head does not appear to change before the hit is made.
- Sarah McLellan (AZ Central):
Just saw video replay. Nolan leads with shoulder to Klesla's head. Leaves feet on follow-through. Klesla looking down with puck on stick.— Sarah McLellan (@azc_mclellan) September 16, 2013
She also mentioned that the Coyotes media was discussing the hit in the context of the Raffi Torres hit on Marian Hossa. For what that's worth.
- Sean Gentille (Sporting News):
With video unavailable, Sporting News commissioned an artist's rendering of Nolan's hit on Klesla: pic.twitter.com/ctACHs1Diq— Sean Gentille (@seangentille) September 16, 2013
Looks suspendable to me.
- Jordan Nolan: Via Rosen:
I felt like it was clean. He was skating through the middle of his ice, and I was just focusing on his chest and I feel like I hit him square in the chest.
- Darryl Sutter: He saw it as a good hit. Short and sweet.
- Shane Doan: Doan also referred to the Torres hit.
Obviously, we think there's a finish high, a finish off the ice... As we've been witness to, that's usually not very good.
- Dave Tippett: Tippett historically defers in his comments about the referees, especially when he disagrees. So, seems like he didn't like the hit...
It seemed to me like a guy got hit in the head and a player left his feet. That’s not for me to diagnose.
We'll update this post with video once it's available. As for the game itself: the Coyotes would go on to win 4-2; paired with their 5-1 win in Los Angeles, it wasn't the best of beginnings for the Kings.
We'll have full coverage of the upcoming full-squad preseason games here. If you were at the Stapler last night (or Phoenix for some reason), give us your thoughts on what you saw.