|Leafs forward Matt Stajan says the hit he absorbed on Saturday night falls into a grey area. (QMI Agency/Craig Robertson)
Matt Stajan feels there was no maliciousness involved by Boston Bruins defenceman Johnny Boychuk Saturday night.
At the same time, Stajan, still sporting a stiff neck from being flattened, urged NHL players to use more respect in order to avoid headshots.
Stajan was crushed by Boychuk late in the Leafs' 2-0 victory Saturday, but was able to return. While no penalty was called on the play, the Leafs claimed Boychuk left his feet.
In the wake of the controversial hit, Stajan was asked if there should be a rule adopted that deters such blows from being delivered. Having pondered the issue, Stajan said the check certainly falls into a grey area.
"I think it is just respect for the player," Stajan said after the Leafs morning skate today at the Air Canada Centre.
"Looking at it, yes, I had my head down. I was looking at a pass, I turned up and there he was. He got me in the head. He left his feet, but at the end of the day there are plays in hockey, what else could you have done there?
"He took a chance there. He took a run at me, and if I dodge him we get a 3-on-1. That's just his decision (when) a player decides to jump up like that and make a hit. But I think it should be the referee's discretion whether it is intent for the head.
"I think that one could be argued both ways. Yes, he hit my head, but I am not going to sit here and say that was his intent. But I know he was trying to hit me hard. I am kind of in the middle. You see hits like that all the time, at the end of the day I turned into him with my head down."
Are the league and the NHLPA on the same page when it comes to headshots?
"I guess there (are) ways you can put in rules, but it is a fast moving game," Stajan said. "There are big guys out there. There are going to be hits like that. There is a lot of hockey games played.
"Hitting is part of the game, but I just think guys must be more cautious when a guy is in a vulnerable position, and not make impact with the head first, which is what happened there."