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Eric Nystrom Hit On Taylor Fedun: Suspension Worthy, But For How Long?

Last night, Taylor Fedun suffered one of the most gruesome injuries in hockey this side of Clint Malarchuk. His collision with the boards after being boarded by Eric Nystrom caused a complex fracture of his femur, an injury that will sideline Fedun for at least a year and possibly cost him his career. The video is below:

The sequence and play mirror the night three years ago when Kurtis Foster suffered the same injury after being shoved into the boards by Torrey Mitchell.

In Mitchell's case he had a clear path to the puck and Foster veered in front of him putting Mitchell in a precarious position. Mitchell's instincts caused him to take the worst possible tack - he shoved Foster in the back and into the boards. It was a penalty, but it was also a sequence that occurred in a bang-bang fashion.

In Fedun's case, he was in front of Nystrom the entire time and Nystrom made what looked to me like a premeditated attempt to board Fedun. Every hockey player knows the end result of that play, Nystrom chose to ignore it. The debate on no-touch icing is already under way, though I don't believe this play should be used as evidence for either side of the debate. This should, however, further the debate on dirty play, suspensions and eliminating this kind of play and these types of players from hockey.

Foster's trail back to the NHL was a long one and it was a surprise that he made it back at all. Fedun is now faced with multiple surgeries and months of physical therapy just to walk normally again, let alone skate. His hockey career, which is obviously second to his health, is in peril. It's got to be a huge disappointment for Fedun - his performance in training camp was eye-opening. His play was well-clear of any of the other defensive prospects and he was a sure bet to play at least a few games in the NHL this season.

Eric Nystrom will be punished, but he's not going to miss a full season, even if he should. Brendan Shanahan has had the luxury of basing all of his pre-season suspensions on illegal contact with the head, but now has to measure Nystrom's intent on a dangerous play and not use "targeting the head" as his starting point. This is simply a terribly dirty play. My guess is 10 games.

*UPDATE* Nick Kypreos tweeted that Fedun had surgery on his leg and had a metal rod inserted as part of the procedure.

EDIT: An alert e-mailer brings up Tomas Plekanec's slewfoot on Denis Grebeshkov on an icing race, a play which cost Grebeshkov seven games due to the resulting injury. Plekanec was called for tripping on the play. The league suspended Plekanec for two games.

EDIT: Dawgbone brings up Jarome Iginla's very similar dirty play on Sheldon Souray, though Nystrom had far more time to take stock of the play. Grainy video below.

That's now three Edmonton defensemen tripped from behind in the last three years. Iginla on Souray, Plekanec on Grebeshkov and now Nystrom on Fedun. Souray missed 16 games, Grebeshkov missed 7. Fedun will miss at least a full season, probably more. Thus far, the total penalty has been 2 games for the opposing team.