Gabe Vilardi wasn’t holding back any punches when he was asked about his six week MCL injury he sustained in game three of the season.
In a game against the L.A. Kings, Vilardi’s former teammate, Blake Lizotte, came around Vilardi from his right side and, while crouched low, tackled him.
Vilardi’s knee bent in a rather cringe-worthy way, and, after six weeks of rehab, brings us to where we are today.
“He’s done a lot of little things like that,” Vilardi said to reporters yesterday. “It’s stuff that you guys say, ‘It was an awkward fall.’ It wasn’t an awkward fall. It’s someone pushing your feet out from the back when he gets caught under me, and then he tackles me. It’s that simple.”
In a league dying for “personality” and less clichés, it’s rather refreshing to hear such honesty from Vilardi. Especially towards a former teammate.
Vilardi looked good on the top power play in the pre-season and in his limited minutes in a Jets uniform so far, and fiery interviews like these will only endear him further to Jets fans.
I’ll be honest, though. While the injury result is unfortunate, in re-watching the video of the play, I don’t see all elements of what Vilardi is upset about.
So we’ll take a look and wonder out loud.
Was this dirty?
No slewfoot, no trip, but a dangerous tackle that is not a body check
In my opinion, Vilardi’s accusations aren’t entirely accurate.
Have a look at the video. The best view is in slow motion around the 35 second mark.
When Vilardi says “it’s someone pushing your feet from the back when he gets caught under me”, I don’t see that. In fact, I don’t see anything malicious from behind, at least when it comes to taking his legs/feet out from under him prior to the tackle.
But if Vilardi’s Jets logo is north, and his jersey numbers are south, Lizotte grabs him from the southeast. He’s not directly behind, but he’s not beside him either. And it’s not a body check either, it’s tackle. That makes it all the more dangerous.
It’s because it’s a tackle, and not a body check, that Vilardi gets injured.
Defenders of Lizotte’s “hit” will note the six inch difference in Lizotte’s five foot nine height and Vilardi being six foot three, but if Lizotte body checks him to create puck separation, the point of contact is higher, and Vilardi’s hips would be the bending point. He also wouldn’t have had downward force, driving Vilardi to the ice. The direction of the impact would be toward the boards.
But because he tackles him low, Vilardi’s knee becomes the point where he bends and it’s unfortunate his skate cuts into the ice and causes it to bend so horrifically. The thing is, even if his skate didn’t get caught, his legs (likely) would have gone from under him and he would have landed on the small of his back.
Which isn’t great either.
Dirty. If it’s a normal body check, there’s no injury. Vilardi’s upper body would have been pushed toward the boards, not the ice.
This isn’t football.