Buffalo Sabres foward Patrick Kaleta was suspended for five games earlier this week, due to hitting New York Rangers center Brad Richards headfirst into the boards. Richards laid in pain, and it looked like it was going to be bad, but luckily Richards was able to skate off on his own. Richards missed Tuesday nights game, and his status for tonight’s game against the Islanders is unknown. Many fans cried foul on the suspension Kaleta received, with many Buffalo fans saying Richards dove, embellished the hit and is a great “actor”. I don’t know why anyone would act and dive purposely head first into the boards, but that is the way many Sabres fans (and others) viewed it, and you can’t blame them. Any fan of any team would react in the same way if it happened to their team’s player. It is a fans right, and Buffalo fans are as passionate and smart about hockey as they come.
Still, the reason Kaleta got five games over what looked to be just a tiny shove is because of what could have potentially happened to Richards on that play. And sadly, what could have happened to Richards or any player that is recklessly shoved head first into the boards has happened in Europe.
Ronny Keller, a defender for EHC Olten in Switzerland, is now sadly paralyzed by getting hit into the boards. Doctors have concluded that Keller has “permanent spinal paralysis” due to that hit. The person who hit Keller, Stefan Schnyder, seemed to hit Keller with much more force than Kaleta did to Richards, but the point is that hits so close to the board are extremely dangerous, and Kaleta did deserve the five games he received, and honestly he is lucky he didn’t get more! The whole point of the suspension was because of the way Richards head and neck slammed into the boards.
Many fans pointed to Dan Girardi’s boarding hit on Tyler Ennis later on in the game, but that was two players going for the puck. The penalty looks bad, but Girardi isn’t known as a dirty player like Kaleta is. Ennis was more aware Girardi was in pursuit,and turned his back, preparing himself for the hit and trying to maintain possession of the puck behind the net. Ennis was more prepared for the hit, whereas the danger in Richards hit was it was totally unexpected, no matter how small of a shove he got to the back.
It sadly may take someone getting paralyzed over here in America for the NHL to open its eyes and give much more severe penalties for these type of hits.
Ronny Keller Hit
Brad Richards hit..or tiny shove