Dustin Brown is facing a hearing by phone right now for his elbow last night to Jason Pominville. Here's the official statement from the league:
Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown faces a disciplinary hearing Wednesday with the NHL Department of Player Safety for an incident that occurred during a game Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.
The following grounds for the proposed supplemental discipline are being considered: elbowing.
With 9:56 left in the second period, Brown and Pominville collided chasing a puck in the Los Angeles end. Pominville skated off the ice with assistance from a Wild trainer and did not return to the game.
No penalty was called on the play.
Here's the video replay:
Brown's explanation comes via the LA Kings Insider: "I haven't seen it yet, but I had the puck on my stick," he said. "He's coming to hit me. I'm just bracing myself. Almost the reverse. I don't know. Like I said, I haven't seen it."
This fits what I see in the video: Brown has the puck and is expecting contact, so he throws his elbow out in reverse. Instead of going for a hit, though, Pominville tries a poke check. His head is down low and Brown connects with it; if Pominville had been upright, it would have hit his shoulder or body.
Michael Russo of the Star Tribune claims the opposite: that Brown knew exactly what he was hitting and lashed out in a move that was "sneaky." I think this take ignores Pominville's unusual body position.
Others in Minnesota have a different view:
Am I the only one who thinks people are vastly overreacting to the Dustin Brown hit on Jason Pominville last night?— Phil Mackey (@PMac21) April 24, 2013
Elbow, yes, but that's what I saw too. RT @mn_matt3: @pmac21 factor for me is that pominville mostly skated into the hit on his own,— Phil Mackey (@PMac21) April 24, 2013
For what it's worth, this is close to the view the nearest referee had as Pominville approaches Brown.
If the case rests on reading intent into it, you have to look at Brown's track record. It's a bit different picture than the one Russo is painting.
Controversy vs. record
Brown has no doubt been involved in controversial hits before, but controversy does not equal guilt. Let's go down the last three incidents to cause furor: 1) a hard hit on Henrik Sedin which Sedin himself said was a clean bodycheck; 2) an alleged kneeing which resulted in a thigh bruise for Michal Rozsival; and 3) a collision with Roussel in Dallas which resulted in Roussel's stick whacking his face before he fell to the ice.
Dustin Brown has no track record of head-hunting. The closest he has ever come was an ejection that was overturned after replays showed a hit was shoulder-to-shoulder rather than shoulder to head. That was three years ago, when the issue became a focus for the NHL and they instituted new rules.
I understand that Brown can elicit some heated reactions with his physical play, and he will continue to do so. But distorting Brown's history isn't necessary. He usually delivers checks to the body. The idea that he does this "once a week," also put forth by Russo, is off base. He is not another Raffi Torres.
The bottom line is that Brown needs to be responsible for his elbow, no matter what his intent. I wouldn't be surprised to see this get one or two games, especially since there may be an injury on the play. However, to me this looks reckless rather than malicious.
Brown is regularly among the league's leading hitters, and has never been suspended in his 614-game career. This should give Russo pause before he reads malice into the hit.
What's your take?