Ducking Like A Chicken – Take The Hit!

This dangerous move is used by players who either do not know how to take a body check or who are just plain cowards.  This move is characterized by the use of a ducking motion at the last moment before a person is about to be body checked, sending the player throwing the check flying over top of the player who is ducking. This is very dangerous, especially if this move occurs near the boards.

The following is an example of what you may see during the course of a game.  Shayne Corson of the Toronto Maple Leafs will be used as the body checker in this example and Mike Modano of the Dallas Stars will be the player committing the dangerous move.

Mike Modano is skating behind his net to pick up the puck that is lying there.  As Modano picks up the puck Shayne Corson is bearing down on him hard. Modano feels this pressure and knows that he does not have much time to get the puck and pass it to a teammate before he gets checked.

As Modano gains possession and control of the puck he skates out from behind the net and is about three feet away from the end boards in his defending zone.  Modano sees Corson bearing down on him and he is only about two meters away from Modano coming at top speed. Modano knows that he must get rid of the puck to a teammate or else there will be a possibility of turning the puck over when he gets hit. 

Modano knows that he will be hit at this time so he passes the puck to a teammate and then looks at Corson who is about a meter away from him now.    

The Danger Zone

Modano has a split second to decide what to do.  He is located three feet away from the end boards in what is commonly referred to as the “Danger Zone”.  When a player gets hit into the boards, he wants to be close to the boards as possible so that he will not be in any funny body positions when making contact with the boards.  If a player is right up against the boards when he gets hit, he will get his whole body hit up against the boards and the glass. This may sound terrible, but it  is a good thing because it does not hurt as much.  When a player gets to about the three to five feet area away from the boards, there is a possibility of after being hit only his upper body will hit the boards because of the distance that must be traveled before actual contact is made with the boards.  When a player is hit, usually his feet stay roughly where they are located on the ice and the upper body falls down to the ice, similar to when a tree falls (the trunk stays within a couple of feet of the tree, but the tree top falls down to the ground a fair distance from where the trunk of the tree is located).  A player when getting hit at this distance away from the boards has the possibility of hitting his head first or his shoulders first with the boards.  This can cause some serious injuries if the player hits his head or neck in a weird position.  Modano knows that he is in the Danger Zone and must do something about Corson or else he may be the one who gets hurt.

Modano can either take the hit straight on and hope that he does not go into the boards in a weird position, or he can spin off the body check (as soon as Corson makes contact with him, Modano will spin in either direction, essentially making Corson skate right by Modano).  But Modano decides to do one of the most dangerous moves in hockey.  He ducks!

When Modano ducks at the last second (just before Corson is about to hit him) this gives Corson no time to slow down and avoid what is about to happen.  Modano is now crunched up in a ball on his knees, and Corson’s lower legs contact Modano.  This causes Corson to trip over Modano but because Corson is three or four feet away from the boards, when he trips over Modano his upper body is sent tumbling in essence ‘head over heels’.  Depending on the distance to the boards, there is a very good chance that Corson will contact the boards head first.

This penalty falls under the ‘Tripping’ penalty just like the slew foot infraction does.  A player can either be given a Minor penalty, Major penalty plus a Game Misconduct, or a Match penalty if the Referee believes that the player intentionally wanted to send an opponent head first into the boards.

In the above example with Modano and Corson, this would not be a Match penalty because it was more of a cowardly reaction and therefore either a Minor penalty or the Major plus a Game Misconduct would be assessed if the Referee was able to see the infraction. The Match penalty happens when the Referee is able to determine that the player waited for the checker to come at him and then at the last second he ducks. Usually a Match penalty occurs when the player who ducks gets rid of the puck well before he is about to get hit.  This player has time to get out of the way of the hit, but he intentionally stands where he is and waits for the checker to get about a foot away before ducking.  Sometime the player will even dive at the checker’s lower legs so that this player will go head over heels into the boards.  This is when a Match penalty is likely to be called.

The “Duck” move is one of the most dangerous moves in hockey that can cause serious injury.  Any move that causes a player to go head first into the boards will most likely be penalized if the Referee was able to see the infraction.  This is a cowardly move and it should be penalized accordingly.

For all the players of the game of hockey, even if the player who is about to check you is charging at you, do not duck. Try to get as close to the boards as possible and take the hit. Think about how you will feel if you duck and cause an opponent to break his neck because you didn’t want to take a hit.  Hockey is  about hitting and you must take a hit from time to time.  Don’t be a coward, take the hit!!