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article imageNHL: Leafs' captain Phaneuf says hit was clean Special

By Aman Dhanoa     Sep 24, 2011 in Sports
Toronto - Toronto Maple Leafs Captain Dion Phaneuf is known for his tough, physical play but doesn't think he has a reputation for being a dirty player.
In the third period of Friday's game against Buffalo he laid a big thunderous open ice hit on the Sabres forward Michael Ryan and was penalized under the new rules for targeting the opposing player’s head. However, replays showed that from the initial point of contact the hit was clean.
“I’ve never been suspended for going for a guy’s head and I’m still not going for a guy’s head,” said Phaneuf after the game. “I play the way I play, I make open-ice hits like that and I’m not going to be hesitant to make an open-ice hit, I’m going to make a clean hit. I felt that was clean.”
“I’ve never had an issue before with my hits so I don’t expect to have them now. I try to hit the guy in the body when the hit is there, but I’m not going to change that. I’ve never been a guy that’s got an elbowing major for one of those hits or going for a guy’s head.”
Wilson also thought the hit was clean, but sympathizes with the referees who are also trying to adapt to the rule changes.
“It’s the principle point of contact and it wasn’t the head,” said the Leafs coach. “He hit him in the shoulder and the body and then it appears his shoulder grazes his head, but the principle point of contact was his shoulder – so that’s not a head shot.”
“Part of why we have exhibition games is just not only for the players to sort out the new rules and their own games but the referees have to gradually come to getting used to the rules. It’s probably harder for the referees to make these adjustments when you’ve called it a certain way for a number of years so you’ll have some situations where there’s penalties when there shouldn’t be…they’re sorting it out just as we are.”
Added Phaneuf, “He (referee) said he’s learning too…everyone’s learning – we’re trying to adapt. That’s a good hockey hit. You’ve got to protect yourself when you’re carrying the puck – you can’t be looking back. It’s been like that for years. You come through the middle of the ice you’re going to get hit, whether it’s the defenceman or the forward. If you’ve got your head down you’re going to get hit.”
Phaneuf understands the need to remove certain hits from the after some of the vicious injuries suffered by players in the past couple of seasons, but is looking at the situation realistically.
“It’s frustrating in the sense you put your team down a man for what I felt was making a good hit and doing my job,” said Phaneuf. “I said that all throughout camp. We can’t take the physical side of the game out, that’s what makes hockey. It’s a big part of the game – it’s a fast, physical sport.”
“I definitely agree with taking head shots out and guys sticking their elbows out and hitting a guy’s head. Guys hitting guys from behind is unacceptable too, but it’s a fast game and open-ice hits are a part of it. The physical part is a big part of our game. I wasn’t trying to hurt him at all – I stood up and I got his body.”
This article was originally published on Oye! Times
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