Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid has another first on his hands, as he was suspended two games for his illegal check on New York Islanders defenceman Nick Leddy.
The incident occurred during the Oilers’ 4-3 overtime win against the Islanders on Thursday. McDavid had the game-winner.
The 22-year-old, backchecking as the Islanders entered the Edmonton zone in the first period of the contest, caught Leddy in the head with his shoulder.
“Obviously it was not a great check, not what I was trying to do. I was just trying to finish my check,” McDavid said after the game. “He stopped a little bit earlier than I thought and I maybe clipped him a little too high. That was obviously not the intent at all.”
The suspension is more than a bit on the high side for a first-time offender and a player of McDavid’s standard, but the league may be attempting to send a message – calling to mind the message they did not send when they docketed Radko Gudas two games for his stick-swinging incident against NHL scoring leader Nikita Kucherov earlier this week.
Consider what the Department of Player Safety’s George Parros said about that suspension.
“As part of our efforts to change player behavior and in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, the Department of Player Safety will increase a player’s discipline when he repeatedly violates NHL playing rules,” he said. “No matter how forceful the impact he makes is, Gudas must stop using his stick to target the heads of his opponents.”
15 months prior to Gudas’ 2019 suspension, he was ticketed with a 10-game ban for attacking Mathieu Perreault. With his stick.
Contrast that situation with McDavid’s two-game ban for clipping Leddy. Contrast that historic framework with McDavid’s grand total of 40 penalties in his career. He has just one roughing penalty in his career.
Leddy played the rest of the game. McDavid scored the winner. A two-minute penalty was assessed and nobody really seemed to address it, apart from the announcement that the Oilers superstar was going to have a hearing. Even Islanders coach Barry Trotz was sort of “meh” about it.
“(Leddy) is bent over, takes a hit to the head,” Trotz said. “I’m not going to comment on it. If it warrants anything, they’ll look at it.”
Throughout the league and league press, you’ll hear time and time again to not compare one suspension to another.
But explain that to people who are trying to determine how, in the eyes of the derisory Department of Player Safety, a first-time offender responsible for a clip to the head gets the same overall valuation as a repeat offender liable for yet another reckless swipe of the lumber.
(Photo credit: NHL)