(HockeySTL)-- Following a game in which the Blues tied the score in the dying seconds, and eventually won in overtime, the focus should have solely been on the team taking a 2-0 series lead. The team wishes it was. But that wasn’t the case.
The focus in the locker room was split between the comeback win, and the health of team captain, David Backes.
Backes, who was the recipient of an illegal hit by Chicago’s Brent Seabrook, was in the minds of fans and teammates alike after sustaining Seabrook’s crushing hit late in the third period.
The hit came as Backes went behind the net to corral a puck. The forward’s stick missed the puck as he skated by, and he was met by Seabrook near the corner. The Chicago defenseman left his skates and drove his shoulder into the head of the Blues’ captain, leaving Backes lying motionless on the ice. A few minutes later, Backes would get to his feet to try to confront Seabrook, but remained unsteady and needed help getting to the locker room. He would not return.
Seabrook was assessed a game misconduct and the Blues would later use the five-minute power-play to tie the game.
“I didn’t like it,” said Blues goalie Ryan Miller. “I don’t think many people, who are hockey fans, should like it. But (the punishment) is not up to the players to decide.”
Several reports indicate that the NHL has already begun looking at the hit, and a suspension is almost certainly forthcoming. However, no official announcement has been made.
Seabrook says that he had no malicious intentions on the hit, but takes responsibility for what was a reckless play.
“I was just trying to make a play on Backes,” Seabrook said. “I was coming down the wall and I just tried to finish my hit.
“We'll see what happens. I feel bad seeing a guy like that on the ice. I've been there myself. I wasn't trying to target his head or do anything like that. It doesn't feel good to see a player like that lying there like that. It wasn't my intent. I thought it's been a physical series so we'll see what happens.”
Neither coach would provide much commentary on the hit, but Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock was noticeably upset with the play, and the potential loss of Backes.
“I have no thoughts on the hit,” said Hitchcock. That’s up to the league.”
Hitchcock did, however, address Backes’ status postgame, which doesn’t appear to be too good.
“How do you think he’s doing,” Hitchcock rhetorically asked. “Not great.”
Seabrook, who isn’t a repeat offender, is likely to have a talk scheduled with the NHL and its Department of Player Safety. If the hearing is schedule, Seabrook will be suspended indefinitely until a ruling is decided.
The NHL has been cracking down on hits such as the one Seabrook delivered on Saturday. No punishment would be surprising to see.
“That’s the kind of stuff we are trying to get out of our game,” said Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. It’s a dangerous hit.”