It's been 11 days since Blues forward Maxim Lapierre's hit from behind landed Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle on a stretcher and Lapierre suspended for five games. Boyle spoke briefly to reporters Friday about Lapierre, explaining he had not taken calls from the Blues forward, but did not talk openly about his thoughts on the hit. That changed Saturday.
Boyle, who resumed skating with his team, shared his thoughts on the hit with David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News.
“I don't think he thought he was going to put me in the hospital with the hit, so I agree with him that wasn't his intention,” Boyle said. “At the same time, we're told since we were five years old not to hit a guy when you see numbers and it's pretty clear he saw my numbers and he decided to hit anyway. That's just lack of respect is what I think.”
Though Boyle didn't like the hit, he admitted he isn't sure what he would've done in that situation.
“We've all been playing long enough that in a split-second, we're conditioned to make that decision,” Boyle said. “A lot of guys would probably choose to not hit there. And vise versa for me, too. There's a lot of guys in the league where I wouldn't hit and, I'm not going to lie, there's probably a handful that I would.”
That last sentence is rather interesting and candid from Boyle. A hit that Boyle felt showed a lack of respect, he might deliver himself depending on the player in front of him. This is a problem.
The NHL has a responsibility to protect all players, but the players themselves have to also take on that burden. That means no matter who is in front of them, making the decision to deliver a hit on a vulnerable player is never acceptable.
You have to give credit to Boyle for being so honest about it, but if a well-respected player like himself has those same thoughts, who knows what is running through the head of a player that is more aggressive.
The hits like the one on Boyle need to be curtailed in a big way. There has just been far too much of this kind of thing this year. To make it work, it's going to require buy in from all players in all situations.
Though Boyle is skating, he is not sure when he'll be able to resume playing in games according to the Mercury News.