Brad Staubitz

Tom Olmscheid, Associated Press

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Staubitz suspended for the first 3 games

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO
  • Star Tribune
  • September 27, 2011 - 6:31 AM

The NHL will be enforcing a stricter standard when it comes to boarding penalties this season.

Brad Staubitz learned this the hard way Monday, and physical Wild teammate Cal Clutterbuck is now paying even closer attention to the video tutorial the league sent to all 30 teams to open training camp.

Staubitz was suspended the final three preseason games and the first three regular-season games for a boarding major against Columbus Blue Jackets forward Cody Bass in an exhibition game Friday. He'll lose more than $9,300 in salary.

"I was on the forecheck, and it's obviously not the outcome I wanted from the hit. I say I play hard but not dirty," Staubitz said after his hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan Monday morning. "You've just got to be conscious all the time of what you're doing. It's tough. You've got to play hard, especially in the role that I'm in. It's a narrow line.

"You've got to be in control. You've got to really pick your spots. I don't know. I'm still learning too ... obviously."

Staubitz accepted his punishment "as long as there's consistency with [suspensions] now." He'll be eligible to return Oct. 13 against Edmonton.

"Start of the new year, I want to be playing, I want to be in the mix," he said. I want what's fair, though."

In an effort to better protect the players, the NHL is trying to crack down on checks from behind.

Two weeks ago, the league sent a DVD to each team with examples of legal and illegal hits near the boards.

If a player checks or pushes a defenseless player in such a manner that it causes the opponent to impact the boards violently or dangerously, a boarding penalty can be called as long as the referee deems the player hit didn't put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit.

The onus is always on the checker to ensure the opponent is not in a defenseless position, and if so, he must avoid or minimize contact.

Clutterbuck has studied the videos.

"So much of hitting is anticipation and timing," said Clutterbuck, who's led the NHL in hits in each of his three seasons. "If you wait for a guy to turn around, your timing kind of goes out the window. At the same time, if I saw a guy in a vulnerable position before, I've usually found another way to bump him or push them a certain way.

"Obviously, you really have to be careful. I think for the most part, you just have to use common sense, and if your intentions are right, which usually mine are, I think you'll be OK."

The NHL's become a fast, sometimes violent game, especially since defensemen are no longer allowed to obstruct oncoming forecheckers such as Staubitz. This is a wake-up call for Staubitz, although he worries if the crackdown will hinder his effectiveness and players like him.

"It's going to be tough for guys because playing like that is why they're there; not playing dirty, but the physicality part," Staubitz said. "So you stray away from that and then you're digging through your toolbox saying, 'What else can I do?'"

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