San Jose Sharks winger Mike Brown doesn’t get much ice time, so when he does take a shift, he wants to make an impact. Sunday night against the Los Angeles Kings, Brown saw his chance to make his mark on the Pacific Division leaders by throwing a big hit on all-star blueliner Drew Doughty. The problem with Brown’s hit, though, was that he may have come too high with his attempt and it could put him on the sidelines.
Brown’s hit on Doughty came in the third period of the Sharks’ Sunday tilt against the Kings, with San Jose leading 1-0. After a neutral zone faceoff, the puck was worked across to Doughty, who skated it through the neutral zone before flipping it into the Sharks’ zone. As Doughty was going to dump the puck, Brown, who was chasing the Kings defenseman, caught Doughty with a shoulder that caused his head to snap back:
Brown was handed a minor penalty for roughing on the play, but he may have been lucky to get away with only two minutes in the box. On the replays shown by Fox Sports, it appears Brown’s shoulder and forearm make contact with Doughty’s head and no other part of his body, which brings into question whether or not Brown could be suspended for this hit.
There’s little doubt the NHL’s Department of Player Safety took a look at Brown’s hit on Doughty, but it’s hard to say whether they’ll believe it merits further discipline than the minor penalty. What definitely won’t work in Brown’s favor is that Doughty doesn’t change the position of his head before the hit and it doesn’t appear Brown grazes Doughty’s shoulder before making contact.
That said, there is the matter of Doughty’s body opening up after he flips the puck into the Sharks’ zone. After Doughty skies the puck, he turns his upper-body position. It’s likely Brown hits Doughty in the shoulder had he not turned. That’s not a defense of the hit, one which seemed to stun Doughty for a second, but it’s likely something the league will consider in deciding whether or not the hit is worthy of further discipline.
If the league does decide to suspend, two things that could impact the suspension length are Doughty’s healthy and Brown’s history. It doesn’t appear Doughty suffered any injury as a result of the hit and he remained in the contest. As for Brown’s history, he’s been suspended once before. In January 2011, he was given a three-game ban for a hit to the head of then-Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski.
But regardless of whether or not Brown is suspended by the league, the Kings and Doughty got their payback for Brown’s hit. On the ensuing power play, Doughty blasted home his ninth goal of the season and Los Angeles would end up taking the contest 3-2 in overtime.