That boarding penalty that was assessed to 6-foot-6, 235-pound Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov last night? Plus, the fighting major he was assessed when he never threw a punch – and took a bit of a sucker-punch himself?
Well, Big Z was and remains a bit incredulous about that. The fighting major, despite not fighting? He can live with that one. But the boarding penalty Zadorov was assessed – no, not OK with that.
“I mean, it’s embarrassing for the referee,” Zadorov told Colorado Hockey Now. “We had a meeting with player safety last year and they were showing us those hits, where you’re already committed to the hit and the player turns last second. You know, what am I gonna do? I’m going full speed to finish him and (he) sees me coming and he turns. It shouldn’t be a penalty. Then I get sucker punched and I get five-minute major.”
If you haven’t seen the full sequence of events that involved Zadorov, Flames forward Austin Czarnik and Flames tough guy Milan Lucic, here it is:
Again, the boarding penalty is what Zadorov was most upset about, and he has a case. Not to get all Avs-tinted-glasses here, but Zadorov is absolutely right: Czarnik saw the hit coming, then turned his back and made himself smaller against a 6-6 guy trying to finish his check. Sure, it was a hard hit, but at last check, that’s still alllowed in hockey. Czarnik is listed at 5-foot-9.
It was just the latest example of Zadorov perhaps being penalized for being too big. He’s gotten these types of penalties before, and knows he has to deal with it. The referees last night were Francis Charron and Ghislain Hebert.
And one more thing: Nikita Zadorov has never been suspended by the NHL for any “dirty” hits.
“We didn’t even get a penalty, a power play? So, this is kind of bull(bleep) I think,” Zadorov told Colorado Hockey Now. “I don’t have anything against Lucic. I would (have done the) same thing, if one of our players stepped up like that. But I expected more from the referees, in this case, to protect. And if anybody thinks I was scared to fight or something, they’re wrong. You can look at might fight card and see the guys who I have fought before in my career. I expect the referee to look at it, and maybe do better next game. I’m a big guy, I’m a physical player. It’s part of my game. If you give me those penalties, it just hurts our team. It’s brutal. It’s my style of the game and I’m not gonna change. They have to fix that stuff. They cannot just call (stuff) on me because I’m big or too strong. People have to prepare when they go out on the ice against me. Brace yourself, protect yourself all the time.”
Here is Zadorov’s actual career fight card, and, indeed, there aren’t any pipsqueaks for opponents.
Here’s one, against a very tough former Boston Bruin, Adam McQuaid, in 2017:
Here’s how Avs analyst Mark Rycroft saw that boarding penalty on Big Z last night. Yes, we know he may be a bit biased, but Ryker has never been shy about criticizing Avs players before too:
Big Z never dropped his gloves. Never threw a punch and got 5 for fighting. Absolute joke. His boarding call was an absolute joke. Player turned last second. What the hell is happening!!
— Mark Rycroft (@RycroftMark) October 4, 2019
It’ll be interesting to see how Big Z continues to be “treated” by the refs.