Injury has Leafs looking for justice

 

The Leafs last night were expecting some kind of disciplinary action from the NHL in the wake of a hit from behind on Mike Van Ryn that left the defenceman a broken and bloodied mess.

 
 
 
 
 

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The Leafs last night were expecting some kind of disciplinary action from the NHL in the wake of a hit from behind on Mike Van Ryn that left the defenceman a broken and bloodied mess.

"I hope so," Leafs forward Matt Stajan said when asked if Canadiens forward Tom Kostopoulos, who made the hit at 7:03 of the first period, should receive a suspension.

"I think (Van Ryn) was in a position where he couldn't defend himself, it was a hit to the head. He (Kostopoulos) is a good guy, he plays the game properly, but I hope the league takes a look at it."

The damage to Van Ryn was considerable: a concussion, broken nose and broken little finger on his left hand.

The native of London, Ont., who came to the Leafs as part of the Bryan McCabe trade to Florida, will be lost for at least a month.

A suspension is possible, but not a given since Kostopoulos has no previous history of these kinds of incidents.

There are several considerations that could sway the NHL, including the fact that the hit was seen by millions of people tuning into CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, at a time when hits to the head are currently a hot issue in the NHL.

There is also the argument – fair or not – that Van Ryn bears some responsibility by putting himself in a vulnerable position.

Leafs coach Ron Wilson, though, wanted nothing to do with the argument that Van Ryn was in any way responsible.

"You can't say the player shouldn't turn away (from the hit)," Wilson said. "It's the responsibility of the guy coming in to see if a guy is vulnerable. But it's not up to me. The league will look at it, there's an injury to the player and if there is, they will take that into consideration."

Wilson said "it was even scarier" when Montreal's Andrei Kostitsyn tripped Leaf rookie Luke Schenn into the end boards. Schenn appeared injured for a few seconds, but returned to his feet and actually went after Kostitsyn in an ensuing scrum.

"There are three guys on the ice over 240 pounds ... in the old days if you had guys who were 200 pounds, that was it, that was as big as it got," Wilson said.

"We talk about these things all the time, but sometimes there doesn't seem to be an understanding of the seriousness of head injuries."

The NHL reviewed the Kostopoulos hit last night and will continue with the process today.

Kostopoulos, 29, said he felt terrible.

"I didn't anticipate he would turn (away, with his back to the hit), I couldn't stop ... I hope he's all right," Kostopoulos said.

Leafs defenceman Pavel Kubina said the play was a "dirty hit," but Kostopoulos disagreed.

"I was just trying to get the puck. I know in my head I wasn't trying to hurt him. I feel bad, I don't think I play dirty and try to hurt players," said Kostopoulos.

The Mississauga native also said he "knows (Van Ryn) a bit," and will try to contact him to offer an apology.

 
 
 
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9/16/2014 9:34:09 PM
 
 

 
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