The NHL announced on Saturday that Calgary Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson has been suspended for four games following his hit on Patrik Laine of the Columbus Blue Jackets at the end of Friday’s game. The league deemed the hit to be a high, hard check with significant contact to Laine’s head.
Andersson received a five-minute elbowing major as the game concluded after delivering the brutal hit. In a video explanation, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety stated that Andersson “launched” into the check and that his elbow made significant contact with Laine’s head.
The NHL Players’ Association announced on Sunday that they will be appealing the suspension on Andersson’s behalf.
After the game, Johnny Gaudreau described the hit as unnecessary, while Blue Jackets head coach Pascal Vincent believed it was a hit to the head and that Andersson left his feet.
This is Andersson’s first NHL suspension, although he has been fined earlier in his career. Laine, on the other hand, is considered day-to-day and did not travel for the Blue Jackets’ next game against the Minnesota Wild.
Can the NHL discourage dirty hits late in games that have already been decided?
The NHL’s explanation of the suspension highlighted Andersson’s upward movement during the hit. They also took into account Andersson’s claim that Laine’s head was low, but noted that it remained in that position while he delivered the check.
The context of the hit is crucial in understanding why Andersson received a four-game suspension. It occurred in the final moments of a game that had already been decided, rendering the game misconduct and major penalty meaningless. This emphasizes the unnecessary nature of the hit, especially considering its force.
While the NHL automatically suspends players who instigate fights in the final five minutes of a game, players may still attempt questionable hits when the outcome is already determined. These hits, like Tyler Myers’ controversial hit on Joel Armia in 2021, contribute to the league’s inconsistent application of supplementary discipline.
If Andersson’s suspension leads players to reconsider delivering dirty hits late in games, it would be a positive development for the NHL.
Sarah Anderson dives into the fast-paced world of NHL hockey. Her coverage includes game analysis, player spotlights, and the latest news from the ice. Sarah’s dedication to the sport ensures that hockey enthusiasts stay informed about the NHL’s thrilling action.