Was Orpik's hit on Toews legal?

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
12:29
AM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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PITTSBURGH -- The Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins did not have strong opinions about the hit Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik put on Jonathan Toews that sent the Blackhawks captain to the locker room holding his left arm Sunday night during the Penguins 4-1 victory.

“We didn’t like that he got hit, just like they wouldn’t like it if Sidney [Crosby] got hit,” Kris Versteeg said after the game. “Jonny is a battler. Hopefully he comes back sooner than later.

[+] EnlargeJonathan Toews
Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesIt will take closer examination to determine whether the hit Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik put on Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was within the rules.
“It looked high, but I guess you have to look closer.”

That’s about as strong an opinion as any Hawks player would offer.

And Versteeg is right. It deserves a closer look, which the league will undoubtedly do on Monday.

Orpik did make contact with Toews’ head, but only after making contact with his shoulder -- hence Toews holding his arm leaving the ice.

Rule 48.1 states: “A hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted. However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was avoidable, can be considered.”

First off, Toews’ head wasn’t the principle point of contact. Orpik also left the ice but, again, it came after the contact of the hit. If the hit causes Orpik to fly into the air, that’s not illegal. If Orpik left the ice before he hit on Toews, that would be against the rules.

“I thought it was clean, but I haven’t seen it again,” Penguins coach Dan Byslma said.

Blackhawks Joel Quenneville needed to see it again, as well.

That tells you it’s not so cut and dry.

Slow motion replays are needed on this one and even though there are moments where it looks like Orpik is breaking the rules -- whether it be head contact or leaving the ice -- there probably isn’t enough to convict.

It shouldn’t be a surprise if Orpik isn’t disciplined. The officials on the ice declared no penalty and the league might just do the same.

Jesse Rogers | email

Chicago Cubs beat reporter
Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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