Buffalo Sabres forward and renowned pest Patrick Kaleta was taken to a hospital on Tuesday night for precautionary measures after taking a hard hit up against the boards in the last-second loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The hit in question came late in the first period, when the Leafs' Mike Brown trailed Kaleta to the side boards and delivered the hit, resulting in a penalty for boarding. It also drew the wrath of the Sabres' Mike Weber as the two tangled.
Perhaps surprisingly, it did not draw the wrath of Sabres coach Lindy Ruff.
"I thought he was sideways," Ruff said. "Some of the obligation is on the player. I didn't think he was defenseless. It's a tough area.
"It's not a blatant run of a guy from behind. He's had the neck issues in the past. ... We want to make sure that there's nothing there."
It's not often you see a coach being so honest when it was one of his players who was hit, but he's right on in this case. Kaleta clearly looked over and saw the oncoming Brown before he turned into the boards and probably made the hit a lot worse.
There has obviously been a tremendous increase in the awareness of player safety across the league in trying to eliminate dangerous hits. But all along, Brendan Shanahan has also maintained that it is up to the player being hit not to put himself in a more vulnerable position. That's what it appears Kaleta did in this case.
That's why the league is not likely to punish Brown any more than the in-game penalty that he was given for the hit. It was likely going to be a check from the side until Kaleta turned away, something that players are taught not to do.
However, it does bring up the point that many have worried about with the increased scrutiny on hits. Will some players risk the injury and turn into the boards, similar to how Kaleta did in this case? It still seems silly to risk so much for a few minutes of power-play time, and this is exactly why. I don't believe Kaleta thought he could draw a penalty if he turned toward the boards here, but he did nonetheless.
Kaleta had racked up 18 PIM in the previous five games this season while recording no points (which isn't his job).
Sabres Patrick Kaleta was released from the hospital earlier today & will not be traveling to Boston for tomorrow's game against the Bruins.— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) January 30, 2013