(Can't believe with all the Canadian folk here that no one has commented on this yet. Or maybe you all dislike the Sens THAT much.... I keed.)
Check out this hit by the Flyers' Steve Downie on the Sens' Dean McAmmond. I especially enjoyed the part where the rest of players, instead of going to check on McAmmond, decide to start the fisticuffs, with 4 or 5 players tripping and falling on McAmmond's lifeless body.
Here are some slo-mo clips for you to judge the "dirtyness" of launching your body (and perhaps elbow) into the face of an unsuspecting McAmmond, who had gotten rid of the puck already. In any event, Mr. Downie will be getting a late start to his rookie season as a result of the hit.
I want to say that if Downie doesn't leave his feet and lead with his elbow that's an absolutely clean, probably highlight-reel-for-the-ages hit. McAmmond might still have gone to the hospital with bruised insides, and the Senators might still have started a brawl, but there would be no 20 game suspension and a young career would be off to a much more auspicious start. And there'd be more talk about McAmmond's failure to protect himself coming around the net at speed, admiring his tidy little pass.
Due to the angles, I guarantee there's no way that Downie knew McAmmond was rid of the puck; you could argue he was just finishing his check, but that's a tight call. Downie, being a rookie and probably still trying to make the final roster, got excited, forgot himself, and made a stupid, dangerous play.
Regardless of whether any hit by Downie on McAmmond at that point would be legal or not, though, there's no question in my mind that Downie was guilty of breaking two cardinal rules: he left his feet and, probably because of that, he led with his elbow. His technique was fine, but early -- just like football, you start low and explode upwards. But you're supposed to lead with the shoulder and not start upwards until contact. Downie clearly jumped the gun and launched himself like Superman, his elbow hit first (and to the head), McAmmond is lucky to be alive, and Downie is lucky the suspension is only 20 games.
I wish the NHL would adopt the bigger ring the Olympics uses. It makes the game so much more exciting. Unfortunately, the league wouldn't want to give up the seats they would have to remove to make the ice larger.