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Breaking Down The Jeff Carter Hit

Many fans watching the Devils game against the Flyers tonight were appalled after watching Flyers center Jeff Carter knock Anssi Salmela unconscious with his hit just 1:01 into the second period.

The hit occurred just after Salmela scored a shorthanded goal to put the Devils ahead, 2-0. Salmela carried the puck into the Flyers zone and worked his way around Flyers forward Mike Richards. Salmela went to the net and shot the puck past Flyers goalie Michael Leighton stick-side for the goal. Almost immediately after he shot the puck, Carter laid into Salmela with his shoulder and upper arm, close to the elbow. He made direct contact with Salmela’s head, sending him flying to the ice. Salmela’s head and neck took the brunt of the collision with the ice, and he laid for several seconds motionless on the Wachovia Center ice. After five minutes, Salmela was placed on a stretcher and taken off the ice, but showed movement in his arms. He eventually got up and was reported to be walking around the Devils locker room during the third period.

In his postgame comments, Carter defended the hit.

**”I saw the replay,” he said. “It was shoulder to shoulder. I’m not a dirty player. I’ve never been suspended. It’s unfortunate that he got hurt. I’m glad he’s fine, that’s not my game.”

Even Devils coach Jaques Lemaire seemed to think there was no intent to injure.

**”I think he wanted to give him a good hit, which I know it’s part of the game,” he said. “And Sammy was down and (Carter) came in and dropped the shoulder to give him a good hit, which is part of the game. But it turned out to be right on the head. Carter, he’s not that type of player. He plays hard.”

Coach Lemaire brings up a good point. On the replays of the hit, you’ll see Salmela’s body low to the ice. When Carter came in for the hit, he expected Salmela to stay up. Carter’s momentum could not be stopped, and the hit was coming to come. I don’t think Carter intended to hit Salmela where he did, and I believe the injury was an unfortunate circumstance in a tough, physical game.

The bigger worry for the Devils is how much time Salmela will miss. If he has a concussion (which is likely), he can be out for a prolonged period of time. The Devils blue line is already thin, and they’ll have to dip into the AHL pool for Wednesday night’s game. If this is a serious concussion, it can force Lou Lamoriello to make a trade and shore up the blue-line.

Thanks to hockeyfights.com, I have a video for everyone to watch and make their own judgment. Here’s the video:

*Quotes lifted from Fire and Ice Blog by Tom Gulitti, Bergen Record beat writer.

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