Maxim Lapierre will meet in person with the Department of Player Safety at noon ET on Friday to address his hit from behind that left Dan Boyle on a stretcher Tuesday night. Ahead of the hearing, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, who will join Lapierre in New York, expressed his thoughts on the play.
"To me, it looked like a hockey play that went awry at the end," Armstrong told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We'll tell our case. We'll give our point of view. We're not going to try and deceive anyone. The way we see it is the way we see it and we'll tell the league officials that, and they'll make their decision."
Armstrong did say the team is grateful that it appears Boyle is going to be fine and it isn't a surprise to hear a general manager defend his player. That said, checking from behind is not, nor should it ever be considered "a hockey play."
The big question the Department of Player Safety has to answer is did Dan Boyle change his body position immediately before or simultaneous with the hit? The answer to that question is no. While Boyle changed direction, Lapierre appears to have had enough time to either minimize contact or make a better choice.
Instead, he drove through Boyle's numbers, putting the Sharks' star defenseman face-first into the glass and appearing to knock him unconscious.
The fact that Boyle was injured on the play and that Lapierre has both a reputation and a prior suspension on his record won't help the Blues.
Armstrong says he is not the only general manager who viewed the hit as he does.
Also from the Post-Dispatch:
"I talked to a few GMs that told me the same thing too," Armstrong said. "I know what a dirty play is, I know what a bad play is. This is an unfortunate play. And as I said, we're glad that Boyle's fine and hopefully going to be fine. ... You never know with head injuries ... but when you look at it, it's just a play that went awry."
After the game, Lapierre said he was just finishing his hit. When a guy's numbers are facing out, that's a hit that either needs to be minimized or go unfinished, though.
Boyle may have made himself a bit more vulnerable on the play, but that doesn't change Lapierre's responsibility.
Lapierre deserves a suspension. Maybe not five or more games, but he deserves a suspension.
It's no surprise that general managers will defend their players, but there comes a point where teams should hold their own accountable for their actions on the ice. Lapierre not only hurt Dan Boyle, but he hurt his team by leaving them short-handed on a major penalty, and shortened the bench for the rest of the game.
The more general managers tolerate dangerous play from their own guys, the less likely it is the league will see meaningful change in player behavior.