Scary hit in Devils-Canucks game that resulted in a brawl over a player's unconscious body has the NHL's hit rules under the microscope

A scary scene unfolded in the New Jersey Devils-Vancouver Canucks game Tuesday night when a hit from Devils winger Taylor Hall knocked out Canucks defenseman Philip Larsen.

As Larsen caught a pass behind the goal in the second period, Hall came charging forward and leveled Larsen, knocking him out instantaneously.

Afterward, with Larsen laying unconscious on the ice, a brawl broke out between the two teams. Canucks players were actually standing over Larsen’s body to protect him from the fight.

Even scarier, another angle shows that Larsen’s head was hit by the skates of other players as the brawl ensued:

Larsen was taken off the ice in a stretcher, and the Canucks later reported that he was awake and responsive after being taken to a hospital.

The hit from Hall went unpenalized, and though there is a slim chance of a suspension, according to Sportsnet, the hit is going to have the NHL reassessing their rules.

As Sportsnet points out, Hall did not leave his feet or lift his elbow to deliver the hit, and he was squared up to Larsen, taking out the potential for a “blindsided” hit. Hall appeared to do everything right. The NHL has had discussions about using blindsided hits to determine suspendable hits, but as Sportsnet points out, taking away blindsided hits would take away a big part of the physical nature of hockey.

After the game, Hall discussed the hit, saying he felt “terrible” but felt the lack of penalty means it was a clean hit:

“I’m looking to make contact there, but I never want to see a guy laying on the ice like that. I only know how to play the game one way, and you’ve got to play it hard. I feel terrible. He’s a former teammate of mine. I would have loved to make a hit there and continue the play. I hope he’s all right.”

“It makes me feel a little bit better that everyone was saying it was a clean hit and the referees agreed. In that sense, I don’t have any regrets with what I did. I try to keep all my extremities in close, and I just wanted to make contact chest to chest. Sometimes it doesn’t work out like that.”

The NHL may decide to punish Hall, simply for the injury his hit caused, but it’s unclear. If anything, this will draw more attention to how the NHL tries to protect players while still allowing for physicality on the ice.

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