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Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri hits Canucks forward Daniel Sedin during a game at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)
Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri hits Canucks forward Daniel Sedin during a game at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

Kadri won’t apologize for Sedin hit, relieved to avoid suspension Add to ...

Nazem Kadri wasn’t apologizing Monday for a blindside hit that popped the helmet off Canucks winger Daniel Sedin over the weekend.

The 26-year-old escaped suspension for the incident, which saw him glide toward the veteran Swede in the Toronto zone before delivering a nasty strike to the shoulder and head area during Vancouver’s game in Toronto on Saturday.

Kadri felt like he caught the back right shoulder of Sedin initially, an explanation the NHL’s department of player safety evidently agreed with.

Blindside hits are not illegal if the principal point of contact is not the head, a rule and reality that certainly raises eyebrows given the violent nature of the hit and potentially dangerous end result.

“As long as it’s clean, you don’t hit him high or leave your feet, I think it’s acceptable,” Kadri said when asked about blindside hits following practice on Monday morning. “But for me, in my particular situation I felt like I did hit him in the body and that was the main point of contact. I’m happy the league felt the same way.”

Vancouver issued a mild statement disputing the decision not to suspend, though the club was plainly frustrated that further action wasn’t taken given the thunderous impact of the hit as well as the potential for long-term injury. Sedin underwent concussion protocol in the team’s dressing room after the collision, but returned to the game and claimed to feel fine afterward.

Suspended three times previously for on-ice malpractice, Kadri didn’t speak directly to the NHL’s player safety department on Sunday, instead getting word from management that he’d avoided any supplementary discipline. He was dealt a five-minute major for charging on the play as well as a game misconduct.

While not apologizing for the events, Kadri was pleased to see that Sedin was not hurt.

“I saw his head kind of hit off the ice and I was obviously a little worried for him,” Kadri said. “I’m happy he’s OK.”

The Canucks didn’t like the hit, nor the one that preceded it: a blindside hit by Morgan Rielly on Jannik Hansen in the neutral zone that escaped punishment entirely. Hansen, who got up and fought Kadri for his misdeed, was placed on injured reserve and would be out “a while” according to head coach Willie Desjardins.

“They were both tough hits,” Desjardins told reporters in Brooklyn ahead of a tilt with the Islanders.

Emotions boiled over as a result.

Derek Dorsett challenged Leo Komarov, he of minimal fighting experience, to an uninvited scrap and Alex Burrows stuck Rielly with a retaliatory spear. Leafs fourth line bruiser Matt Martin didn’t like either incident and responded by mauling rookie defenceman Troy Stetcher. That caused Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller to quickly exit his crease and fight Martin, the emotional high-point of a circus-like third period.

More than a handful of misconducts were handed out over those unruly final 14 minutes, Vancouver eventually losing their eighth consecutive game.

“That’s hockey,” Kadri said of the Canucks fiery response. “I’m sure we would’ve done the same thing so I think that reaction was pretty standard for a team that was down in a hockey game and you hit one of their best players. Yeah, it was pretty standard. Not surprised.”

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