Deryk Engelland Suspended Five Games

USATSI_7624114_154158418_lowresPittsburgh Penguins defenceman Deryk Engelland has been suspended for five games for his illegal check to the head of Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader on Saturday night.

The suspension has been part of a rather busy week for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. Four suspensions, including Engelland’s, have been doled out over the last five days for a total of 24 games.

This is a pretty open and shut case and it’s hard to argue against the suspension on any reasonable grounds.

Engelland is entirely responsible for the hit. Abdelkader never changes his position, never “makes himself vulnerable” or any of that other claptrap. Engelland commits to his positioning and subsequently delivers the dangerous check, “picking” the head along the way. It’s an intentional move, not a move determined by any sort of shift in his victim’s posture or movement.

“If Engelland wants to make this check, he has to take a different angle of approach that ensured the head is not picked and made the main point of contact. This is not an otherwise full body check on which head contact is unavoidable,” Patrick Burke explains in the suspension video from the National Hockey League.

There’s also Engelland’s repeat offender status to consider, which basically amounts to the five game suspension. Had this been his first illegal check to the head, it’s possible he could’ve skated with a couple games shaved off the suspension.

Meanwhile, Abdelkader left the ice and didn’t return to the game on Saturday night. He complained of dizziness and headaches, which have thankfully subsided by now. On Wednesday, Abdelkader joined the Red Wings for a skate at Comerica Park. He’s still not cleared to play, but he has once again gone the popular route of standing up for his fellow hockey players.

“I don’t think he was trying to hit me in the head at all,” Abdelkader said. “He was just trying to take the body there and got me in the head. It’s an unfortunate play. The league has done a good job of cutting down on those hits.”

Atta boy, Justin.

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