Saturday, October 16, 2010

Article about the Letang hit on Comeau 10-15-10

Penguins will appeal Letang head shot penalty

Sporting NewsSporting News

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was ejected Friday after receiving a five-minute major for a hit to the head of New York Islanders forward Blake Comeau. The problem? Replays show Letang never made contact with Comeau's head.

After the game, Penguins GM Ray Shero announced the team would ask the NHL to review the penalty, in hopes of having it rescinded, reported.

The Penguins won 3-2 in overtime, their first victory in the new Consol Energy Center.

The incident occurred at 7:48 of the second period. Comeau was skating toward the Penguins goal in the Pittsburgh zone and had fumbled the puck. He was looking back when Letang flattened him from the blind side.

Replays showed the hit was shoulder-to-shoulder. But with Comeau on the ice officials whistled Letang for an illegal check to the head, a five-minute major which carries an automatic game misconduct penalty.

The rule instituted this season states "a lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principle point of contact" is an automatic major and game misconduct.

Under the new rule, if Letang is assessed the same penalty combination again, he will face an automatic one-game suspension, assuming the call from this game isn't overturned, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The hit was hard enough to knock off Comeau's helmet, but replays showed his head didn't hit the ice. After about a minute, Comeau got to his feet, skated off and remained in the game.

Josh Bailey engaged Letang after the play and got a roughing penalty.

"It didn't really look like he hit him in the head on the replay, but it's still the kind of hit that we're not going to accept it," Bailey said.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma told reporters he spoke to officials after the second period.

"The referee made a decision about protecting a player; he has to make it in a split second," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

Letang made his case to reporters, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.

"I tried to put my stick on the puck first, that's how we play defense -- then I put my shoulder on his shoulder," he said. "With a hit like that, right away I was saying (to officials) that I was going for the puck.

"It's a judgment. Everybody's got to look at it. It's a play that I need to step up; otherwise he's going to be by himself in the scoring slot."

Bailey saw the sequence differently, according to the Tribune-Review.

"I saw it on the replay, and obviously he blindsided him," he said. Comeau "didn't see it coming. To some degree, there is an onus on the player, and I'm sure Blake would agree with that. But at the same time, we're not going to stand for that."

Comeau assisted on the tying goal 1:48 after the Islanders' first tally. He had at least two other scoring chances the remainder of the game.

"Everyone is going to look at (the hit)," Letang said. "It's a play that I need to step up, otherwise he's going to be by himself in the slot with a great scoring chance, so I am stepping up for the puck and hit him on the shoulder."

Comeau was not available for comment after the game. Islanders coach Scott Gordon said Comeau was being tested.


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