He earned the four day ban for his hit on Matt Lundin of the Ottawa Senators when the two clubs squared off on Saturday night. The incident took place in the first period and the Flyers went on to win the game by a final score of 2-1.
The 25-year-old Toronto native has spent most of his pro career with the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL thus far, but he spent 37 games with the Flyers in the 2011-2012 season.
On the play on Saturday night, Zolnierczyk seemed to leave his feet delivering a high hit on the Senator. Lundin has since been diagnosed with a concussion, which gives Ottawa even more injury problems.
“Instead of delivering a hard, legal check,” Brendan Shanahan explains in the clip, “[Zolnierczyk] launches prior to the check, making significant contact to Lundin’s head. This is charging.”
Zolnierczyk, whose name is as much fun to type as it is to say, will give up $12,972.96 in salary to the Players’ Emergency Fund. It’s not a major loss for the Flyers or for anyone’s hockey pool, but it remains illustrative of the fact that the NHL is still trying to crack down on head shots.
It also illustrates the idea of players expecting contact on the ice and “keeping their heads up” but not having to expect illegal contact. As Shanahan points out on the clip, “what no player should expect is that an opponent will launch upward, off the ice, and into his head.”
Precisely. While in the past such plays might have been considered “good hockey hits” or the stuff of Scott Stevens’ legend, today we know more about concussions (we should have known then, too, to be honest) and we know more about the damage they do. Protecting players has to be a concern, even for those who callously react to player injury, and suspending these incidents with consistency has to be part of the NHL’s action plan.