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Scary Moment: Jeff Carter Hit Knocks Anssi Salmela Out Cold

Feb 8, 2010, 9:07 PM EDT

In the wake of tonight's Flyers-Devils game, you'll hear a lot of opinions on the second-period hit by Jeff Carter on New Jersey defenseman Anssi Salmela. Some will say it was a clean hit with an unfortunate outcome, and others will say it was dirty and/or late. Here's video of the hit as it happened, and after the jump, a better-quality video that consists of a series of replays from a variety of angles. 

The hit came just after the streaking Salmela shot the puck past Michael Leighton, and when I say "just after," it really was less than a second later. 

Here are the replays:

Even with all the replay angles, hits like this are tough to call. Earlier this season, we saw an eerily similar outcome after a hit by Mike Richards on David Booth of the Panthers. Richie was penalized heavily in the game, but did not receive discipline from the league. Carter received no penalty, but we'll have to wait and see how the league responds. 

More to come, just wanted to get the videos posted for those who hadn't seen it live. 

Aside from any questions about Carter's hit, we are happy to hear that Salmela did not immediately have to leave the arena to go to the hospital. Reports from the dressing rooms say he's able to walk, but has a broken nose and lost some teeth. That would explain all the blood on the ice after the hit, and it's a huge relief to know he's likely not seriously hurt. It looked bad when wasn't moving for so long, and none of us wish that kind of harm on any player. 

Carter hitThe hit will be a topic of debate, and my opinion is probably somewhat tinged by my Flyers-fan bias. But, I don't believe it was a dirty hit. I've played it back slowly, and even in the second video above, in slow motion, it's still just one second from the shot to the hit, with the contact being simultaneous to the puck hitting the net (pictured at right). And, from the behind-the-net cam, you can see that Carter showed restraint in keeping his elbow tucked until after the contact. Salmela's head was down as he released the shot, and Carter did not pull up at all, skating full stride and making an open-ice check with the full force of his momentum. 

Salmela's body spun around violently, yet limply, in the air, parallel to the ice surface from several feet up. His head spun toward the ice, feet in the air, and his face made first contact. The big hit probably did a lot of damage on its own, but the after effect of landing face-first on the ice undoubtedly made the injury much worse. 

The aftermath of the hit was frustrating for those of us watching the game on Versus. The broadcast took a long time to replay the hit, keeping the camera trained on Salmela's motionless body, still face-down on the ice, offering us little in the way of what actually happened. Keith Jones was doing the color commentary, and he initially assigned the hit to Richards. We saw the stretcher on the ice before we saw a replay, and play-by-play announcer Joe Beninati along with Jones discussed the minutiae of past transactions involving Salmela while about 4 minutes passed before we saw a replay. At that point we learned it was Carter, and not Richards, who made the hit. Beninati, perhaps misspeaking more than anything else, indicated that Carter made the hit while Salmela was celebrating, which simply wasn't the case and was far more damning a scenario than what actually happened, no matter what your opinion on the hit was. Even some Flyers fans became livid with Carter in the immediate aftermath, but in retrospect, I would give Beninati the benefit of the doubt that he wasn't unfairly editorializing so much as just making a mistake based on having to speak spontaneously and perhaps not having seen sufficient replays. 

Hits like this always spawn some debate, and we're all ears as to your opinion. Ours is that it was a legal hit with a very unfortunate after effect.