Tale of two hits: Ovechkin vs Hossa




Their has been comparisons drawn between the hit of Alexander Ovechkin on Brian Campbell, of Marian Hossa on Dan Hamhuis. They do have similarities, but you can draw similarities between many things. Example: both of these a round, both grow on trees, both have seeds, both are fruit, and both contain citric acid, however an apple and orange or not the same, it is the differences that separate the two, not the similarities, the same with Hossa's and Ovechkin's hits.

I'm not looking get into the argument of was just a 5 minute major sufficient, or if Hossa should be suspended, that is a separate argument, though I believe several of the factors discussed here are relevant to that discussion. Nor am I trying to defend Hoss's hit, because I do think it was dangerous. This is simply a compare and contrast of the two hits to show the differences between them.

As Chris Burton stated here are the similarities:
  • Brian Campbell and Dan Hamhuis are both in the process of playing the puck, which means its not a late hit.
  • Each hit was a push from behind. 
  • Both times, the player hits the boards with force and crumples up, if you will. 
  • In both hits the offender should've backed off in order to avoid a possible injury. 
  • Campbell and Hamhuis were both injured. Hamhuis missed the remainder of the game.

But as I stated earlier, it is the differences that matter.


Alexander Ovechkin 6' 2" 233 lbs vs Brian Campbell 6' 0" 189 lbs

Alexander Ovechkin has 2 inches in height, and 44 lbs on Brian Campbell. A significant size advantage for Alex Ovechkin over Campbell. So what does this mean, Ovechkin is able to move with more force and energy at the same speed, then Capmbell.


Marian Hossa: 6' 1" 210 lbs vs Dan Hamhuis: 6' 1" 209 lbs.

Both same height and only a 1 lb difference in weight. No size advantage for either player. When both are skating at the same speed they will move with nearly equal force and energy.



Now this is probably the hardest thing to judge. Unless a player flat out admits he is head hunting, intent can only be gauged by the play it self, you have no idea what is going through the players mind. Sometimes it can be fairly obvious, a reckless or dangerous hit on another that is not playing the puck, or has no part of the play can pretty readily be called intent to injure.

Here is an example of James Wisniewski's hit on Brent Seabrook. (CHI @ ANA 17MAR2010)

Here shortly before Seabrook is hit by Wisniewski, Seabrook hits Corey Perry, a hit that Wisniewski took exception to. Wisniewsk then looked for Seabrook, hit him in the head while leaving his feet. Seabrook was not playing the puck, was not looking for a hit, and in a vulnerable position for this type of hit because of it. Intent is clear here on Wisniewski's part to hurt Seabrook.

Unless it something relatively clear as this, intent is much harder to judge. Perhaps it is prudent to break intent itself into more than one type.

1. (Most Severe) Intent to injure: Absolutely the worst and completely unacceptable. This is still only a game. As the perennial Chicago Cubs fan states, "their is always next year". Nothing in this sport is worth seriously injuring another player. You can always try again to win the Prize, but it is never worth risking taking away someone else's ability to do the same.

2. (Less Severe) Intent to make a dangerous play, not playing the puck: This is where one player makes a risky/dangerous/reckless play on another player while not playing for the puck. The intent may be to finish the check, disrupt another player's ability to get back in the play or to the puck, or something along those lines, but the intent was not to directly injure the player. This can be from Cross Checking, Boarding, Roughing, Checking from Behind, Tripping, etc.. It is also important to note, contact with a player who is not in possession of the puck, or had possession immediately prior is interference (NHL Rule 56 on Interference). This does not necessarily mean it is a play on the puck, or if the hit on the player who had the puck was clean would draw a penalty or not. This part of the breakdown is on the purpose of the hit is it the player or the puck. Here the question can easily be posed if any contact at all is legal.

This is where I think Ovechkin's hit on Campbell falls. The puck had been played, and it had been played to the right of both Ovechkin and Campbell. Campbell was just getting to (about 1-2 feet before) the Goal Line when Ovechkin hit Campbell in the back, and Ovechkin was skating left, away from the direction of the played puck. If Ovechkin was playing the puck, he would have gone right, not left. Ovechkins hit is more of the disrupt the player to finish the check variety, not playing the puck.

3. (Least Severe) Intent to make a dangerous play, playing the puck: Similar to above, this is when one player makes a risky/dangerous/reckless play on another player while playing for the puck. The one player may recklessly or dangerously move, push or hit another player off the puck in order to break possession or in an attempt to gain possession of a puck both are playing for. The question here is not whether contact was legal or legitimate, but if the type of contact is legal.

This is where I see Hossa's hit on Hamhuis fall. Similar to Ovechkin, the initial contact happens about at the goal line, though a little deeper, but both player were attempting to gain control of a loose puck. The puck was played by Hamhuis, as he was getting hit, to the right and Hossa immediately follows the puck, even while pushing on Hamhuis, Hossa is moving right toward the puck. Hossa has already gained control of the puck to the right of Hamhuis before the whistle is blown stopping play. Hossa was clearly playing for the puck.



Not only just the type of hit, but some of the circumstances behind it (where and when for example).

Here I will look at these two questions

How was the hit delivered?

Where was the hit delivered?

Alexander Ovechkin on Brian Campbell


How was the hit delivered?

Ovechkin delivers a Cross Check (NHL Rule 59.1 Cross-checking - The action of using the shaft of the stick between the two hands to forcefully check an opponent),  to the top of the number on Campbell.

Ovechkin is behind Campbell shoulders squared to Campbell's, and Ovechkin's feet are spread well outside shoulder width (as to maintain control through the hit), and both are moving in the same direction.

Ovechkin leans into the hit

Ovechkin extends his arms fully on the follow through of the hit, driving Campbell into the Boards.

Ovechkin, though not in a an all out sprint, is not skating slowly, nor is he slowing down for the hit.


Where was the hit delivered?

Contact was first made about 1-2 feet before Brian Campbell was reaching the Goal Line (11' from the endboards), and the follow through carried roughly halfway to the board about 5-6 feet from the endboards. Total contact distance is about 6-8 feet.


Marian Hossa on Dan Hamhuis

How was the hit delivered?

Hossa delivers a push to Hamhuis. Hossa has his right hand on the stick, and pushes Hamhuis with his left hand. Hossa's stick hand never makes contact.

Hossa pushes Hamhuis on his right shoulder blade area.

Hossa's left arm is fully extended prior to contact with Hamhuis

Hossa learns forward prior to contact with Hamhuis, and remains in the same position through contact.

Hossa is breaking right at the time of contact, and through the end of the contact, in a slightly different direction than Hamhuis.

Where was the hit delivered?

Contact is intially made as Hamhuis is at the Goal line, and continues to about 4-5 feet beyond the goal line. This also being the total contact distance.


The similarities of the the two hits happening near the end boards, while both skaters are skating at the endboards, contact happened around the goal line, and injuries occurred is the end of where these two hits similarities end.

The differences between the two are significant.

1. Hossa's hit on Hamhuis was a single hand push whereas Ovechkins was a cross check from behind.

2. Ovechkin followed through not only with arms, but body  on Campbell driving Campbell into the boards. Hossa's arm was fully extended prior to contact, and his bodies vertical position remained nearly the same throughout the hit. The range of contact of Ovechkin on Campbell was about 50% greater than Hossa's.

3. Ovechkin's hit on Campbell was not a play on the puck, but rather a play soley on Capmbell, to knock him off the play. Hossa's hit was a play to gain control of a loose puck, attempting to deny Hamhuis from being able to gain control of the puck. Ovechkin skated away from the direction the puck was played, Hossa immediately gained control of the puck.

4. Intent.Ovechkin's play falls into the Intent to make a dangerous play, not playing the puck, whereas Hossa's is Intent to make a dangerous play, playing the puck.

5. Finally Hossa vs Hamhuis are equal in size players, where Ovechkin had a significant size advantage over Campbell. If you do not believe players are not aware of this, well I can't help you there.

Ovechkin certainly knows he has a size advantage over allot of players, he uses it to his advantage as he should. Ovechkin certainly knew he had roughly a 2 inch and 40 pound edge on one of the Blackhawk's best defensman, yet he still hit the player like he did.

Hossa and Hamhuis are nearly identical in size, and once again Hossa is going to know if he has a size advantage or disadvantage against a Predators defensman. Hossa did not hit with nearly the force we see from Ovechkin, he did not have the size advantage.


Now I am not going to discuss the severity of the injury in the comparison of the hits, since even clean hits can cause injury.


Jonathan Toews missed the next 6 games from this hit. But it was a clean hit none the less.

The severity of the injury should factor into punishment from the league, provided the hit was bad, but should not be the leading factor, rather the circumstances of the hit should come first.


I'm also not going to discuss, Campbells "toe pick" on his way to the boards. For one it is irrelevant to the hit, and two, probably would not have happened if he was not being driven toward the boards.


But as I stated earlier, this is not to defend Hossa or debate any further Penalty the NHL Wheels of Justice may look at, but simply to show though the Hossa on Hamhuis hit has similarities to Ovechkin on Campbell, their are significant differences from cradle to grave. I am sure their are other subtle similarities and differences as well, but to say the two are incredibly similar, in my opinion is unfair and the reason I felt it was needed to contrast the two.

This FanPost was written by an OTF reader, and does not represent the views of the editorial staff. Got something you'd like to share? <a href="" target="new">Post your own</a>!

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