Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Elbow Heard Around the World

In a press conference today, Sidney Crosby announced he'd be taking more time off than the original 2 games. The new "indefinite" time frame for return is devastating and frustrating, of course, but one comment specifically seemed to be a little over exaggerated. He pinpoints the main cause for his return of post-concussion syndrome symptoms as the hit in the video above. He implied that the elbow from Krejci was intentional and the point in which he experienced enough head trauma to warrant sitting and waiting it out all over again. There is no question that Crosby's head and Krejci's elbow make enough contact to cause damage, but to say that it was anything other than an unfortunate incident seems to be placing the blame in the wrong place. Perhaps Crosby just wanted to place the blame somewhere because he is understandably frustrated, but the ensuing chirping with Krejci afterwards and then from the bench are lost on Krejci. Examining the video above, I considered the following:

  • Did Krejci's elbow aim somewhere specific? And if so, did he exert force with the intention of hitting Crosby or otherwise using his elbow to make contact? When trying to get the blade of your stick on the puck lodged against the boards, elbows tend to elevate as a natural part of your functioning anatomy. It doesn't appear that it is anything more than Krejci moving his body to shield the puck while trying to retrieve the bouncing rubber from the boards at a particularly vulnerable area for turnovers - right at the blueline.
  • Does Krejci move his body or elbow in the general direction of Crosby anticipating Crosby will go in that direction? It doesn't appear so. He simply turns towards the puck to shield it, preparing for the one on one battle, not a body check.
  • Does Crosby position himself in a way that Krejci could not anticipate? I believe so. Krejci's immediate reaction after losing control of the puck is to respond to the physical contact initiated by Crosby, not aware of the nature of the contact Crosby made. 
  • The biggest factor here is that Krejci has his eyes on the puck the entire time. He is looking up and following the puck as it descends to the ice and then bounces. While he is certainly aware of Crosby's presence (as he positions himself to shield the puck from him), he does nothing to alter his position in an unnatural way in order to cause harm. 
  • Krejci's body is moving in the direction he is trying to move the puck - keeping it inside the blueline. Crosby is approaching from an angle that would make Krejci assume he is coming straight on, rather than going around and therefore lowering his head in an attempt to reach around Krejci. 
The momentum of Krejci trying to shovel the puck back into the zone while protecting it with his body is what causes the ultimate damage. There is no reason to believe there is malicious intent or purposeful actions in hurting Crosby. Why would he have reason to? He is simply trying to keep the puck in the zone, without turning it over at a vulnerable spot, while trying to keep his eye on a bouncing puck.

Crosby does shift at the last moment as the puck changes directions in order to avoid hitting Krejci at full speed, and that shift along with Krejci's shift in movement simply result in an unfortunate incident.

It certainly is not as if Krejci threw his elbow up at the last minute to make contact. He was trying to play the puck and maintain control, digging it out of the trenches with his stick. If you watch tapes of Krejci in similar situations, he moves in the same fashion with his elbow up while "digging" the puck out of the boards.

I do not see any intent or malice, and I am aware that that may be skewed by my bias as a Bruins fan, but I tried to consider that obstacle when judging the video. Watch for yourself. What do you think?

No comments:

Post a Comment