Los Angeles Kings forward Ethan Moreau was called for boarding over the weekend when he hit Chris Kunitz of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Unlike a lot of the boarding calls we've seen this season, it didn't result in a suspension for Moreau, but he was still fined. The NHL hit him with a $2,500 penalty, the largest a player can receive under the current CBA.
The hit happened about midway through the first period of the Penguins' 3-2 shootout victory in Los Angeles. Here is the play.
Clearly boarding, but it doesn't seem like a particularly vicious hit. Couple that with the fact that Moreau really doesn't have a history to speak of and you see why there is no suspension forthcoming.
Moreau will take the penalty in stride, but he first wanted to share his feelings on the matter. And share he did. Here is what he told Rich Hammond of LAKingsInsider.com.
"I've noticed a big difference in the last couple years, especially with D-men going back to get pucks," Moreau said Monday. "I think they just show their back to you now, and they're off the hook. It would be better if they just squared up to the hit, took the hit and moved on. I don't think protecting yourself by putting yourself in a vulnerable position is the way to play. I can't imagine. I would never do that, but it seems like it's almost something that's acceptable now.
"There has to be some repercussion, there has to be some penalty, either for embellishing on a questionable hit or not protecting yourself. What happened with me, it looks bad, I admit it. It looks like it is a penalty, but players definitely embellish it."
Moreau didn't call out Kunitz personally, but Moreau clearly didn't think his punishment fit the crime.
"I definitely hit him from behind, but it wasn't excessive," Moreau said. "I was just trying to finish my hit and it happened so fast. He's looking for the puck and I'm just trying to knock him off the puck. He's a strong guy. It didn't seem like he braced (for the hit). He went down pretty easy. He was out for that shift.
"So I understand their philosophy, and what they're trying to crack down on, but it's difficult. It's a really difficult read. My job is to play physical, and if you pass up every questionable position on the ice, you're not going to be very physical."
Moreau certainly is not the first player to share these feelings. He grows an increasingly louder chorus of critics on players intentionally trying to draw these penalties. This will remain an issue as long as the boarding penalties are under such a microscope.
And while Moreau does not call out Kunitz, it sure seems that's where this rant was born, out of the frustration from this particular play. It should be noted that for a very similar play, Kunitz's teammate Kris Letang was actually suspended earlier this season for being the deliverer, not the recipient of such a hit. Letang, however, had a background that wasn't pristine like Moreau's.
I still can't quite comprehend how players can view an extra couple of minutes of power play time in a regular-season game can be worth rising serious injury by putting their self in harm's way. Now the falling down a little easier part that Moreau brings up, that's understandable. We all know that diving, while not as prevalent as it is in soccer, is present in our beloved sport of hockey.
Personally, I'm wondering what happened to just a regular old boarding call? It hardly seems to exist anymore. This one seems rather mundane, certainly no worse than this play from Marco Sturm of the Panthers on Jordan Leopold of the Sabres, a play that resulted in no supplementary discipline from the NHL.
So I pose two questions to you: First, did the punishment fit the crime in this case? Second, does the NHL have a chronic problem here or is this just frustration from the offending players?
Video: The Score