By: Will Burchfield
Ottawa’s Dion Phaneuf delivered arguably the hit of the playoffs on Monday night, thundering Pittsburgh’s Bryan Rust as he was cutting across the middle of the ice. Rust, a Michigan native, was removed from the game and would not return.
To many Red Wings fans, it brought back memories of Scott Stevens’ bone-crunching hit on Slava Kozlov in Game 2 of the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals. The resemblance is uncanny.
It is telling of the NHL’s changing ways that Stevens’ hit was instantly praised as clean while Phaneuf’s hit sparked immediate debate.
Said ESPN’s Bill Clement just moments after Stevens laid the lumber, “Should point out it was a clean hit.”
Responded his play-by-play partner Gary Thorne (All Hail), “Oh, absolutely. Just an absolute NHL hit.”
In regard to Phaneuf’s hit, the hockey community was far more divided.
There were those who felt it was dirty:
And those who insisted it was clean:
No surprise which side the old-school Don Cherry was on.
“Way to go, Dion. Nice one!”
Pittsburgh topped Ottawa 1-0 in Game 2, squaring the Eastern Conference Finals at 1 game apiece. Game 3 is on Wednesday in Ottawa.