Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Jesse Martin Still Hospitalized After Hit

We have some news on injured Denver forward Jesse Martin, who was the victim of a hit by North Dakota's Brad Malone on Saturday night in Grand Forks.

While Martin is still in the hospital, it sounds like he's been a popular guy there. Plenty of visitors, and lots of time talking with people.

One of those people was apparently Malone, who has been having a tough time dealing with the hit.

Malone, a 212-pound forward drafted by the Avs in 2007, produced his hit on a forecheck while Martin was trying to skate the puck up ice, out of the defensive zone. Malone's shoulder appeared to strike the side of Martin's head. Malone could not be reached for comment.

"Malone obviously didn't mean to hurt him," said DU senior Jon Cook, who visited Martin in the Grand Forks hospital before he was airlifted to Minneapolis.

When told about the phone call to Malone, Cook said, "That's very classy. Jesse is that type of guy. It probably helped Jesse too, to be able to speak with him."

That Malone has been having difficulty dealing with what happened should show you something about his character. He's a very good player who has a bright future, and it's clear there was nothing malicious about this hit.

I argued Monday that this was an illegal hit. Please understand that this was not a dirty hit. There's a huge difference. It's unfortunate -- and tragic, too -- that this happened. It was an accident in many ways, and my argument that this was an illegal hit does not mean I think Malone did something dirty or worthy of a league suspension.

Instead, it was a sad teaching point, one that shows how careful athletes have to be now when initiating contact with an opponent. It was a cavalcade of things that, by themselves, wouldn't have led to this outcome. Martin lost control of the puck while getting ready to attempt a pass, put his head down to find the puck, and took a hit from a player he didn't see coming. Malone put himself in position to deliver a hard but legal and clean hit, and while he appeared to be guilty of charging no matter what ended up happening, he would have gotten away with it had Martin gotten up on his own.

We all hope for the best for Martin, a good senior player on a good, classy program. At the same time, though, it's hard not to feel at least a little bit for Brad Malone. He's also a good player who plays the game the right way. He isn't a dirty player, and he isn't a guy who needs to be suspended to make a point or send a message.

The way Martin's family and Malone have reacted to this should show that Malone's been punished enough without the league saying anything. Hopefully, all is well for him to take the ice Friday against UMD.

Meanwhile, Martin's father feels the sport's culture is in need of a change.

"I am absolutely in favour of the discussion going on right now about changing the culture of hockey," Terry Martin said in an interview.

"I hope they do it sooner rather than later. The game has gone through enough tragic incidences up to this point."

Martin says his son's fractures have stabilized and doctors have confirmed the injury didn't block any arteries -- a good sign for surgery, which could happen Thursday or Friday.

The hockey player is expected to remain in hospital for another week after the surgery, said Martin.

He has a point, and the rules regarding head contact, along with the issuance of a major penalty on Malone for a hit that would have been considered totally clean a few years ago should help us down the right path.

No comments: