For the second time this season the Blackhawks watched one of their best players knocked out of a game by shot to the head.
Atlanta's Colby Armstrong laid out Marian Hossa early in the third period of Saturday's game at the United Center, sending the Hawks winger to the dressing room for the rest of the night.
Was it a clean hit or not? Armstrong led with his shoulder, which is fine, but he caught Hossa on the chin.
The point here isn't clean or dirty, however, it's how much longer Hawks general manager Stan Bowman is going to let his best players be targets?
Maybe this isn't a problem that can be solved this season with the March 3 trade deadline so close, but next year the Hawks darn well better have someone tough enough and nasty enough to show other teams they better not be going after Hossa, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith.
Ben Eager is not the answer and Adam Burish is more of an agitator than a deterrent.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville didn't have a problem with Armstrong's hit, or at least he told reporters he wanted to see the replay before making a judgment.
I asked Quenneville after the game about the hits this season on Toews and now Hossa and if he was tired of seeing his stars get drilled or if the hits were simply part of the game.
Toews missed six games with a concussion from Willie Mitchell's head shot in October.
"I think you see it throughout the league,” Quenneville said. “That’s part of (Armstrong’s) game and I think you need to recognize it when you on the ice against (him). I think that we’re pretty effective as far as sticking up and being aware of those types of plays. The one thing I like about our group is how well we stick together and fight for one another.”
Kris Versteeg and Jordan Hendry were good teammates and came to Hossa’s aid, but that’s not enough.