Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri has been suspended the remainder of the first round for his crosscheck to the head of Boston Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety handed down the suspension Monday.
The incident took place during Saturday’s Game Two, a contest the Maple Leafs lost by a final score of 4-1.
One of the major underlying issues to this suspension is Kadri’s status as a four-time offender, but the length of this ban is somewhat unusual. It’s not particularly common for the Department of Player Safety to hand down what’s essentially a flexible suspension, as this can be anywhere from a three-game to a five-game punishment.
Something similar was passed to San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres when he was suspended for the remainder of the 2013 Western Conference semifinals following his check on Los Angeles Kings forward Jarret Stoll.
In the case of Kadri, the crosscheck was described as “retribution” for earlier incidents in Game Two. That’s not inaccurate.
“This is not a hockey play. Instead, this is a player retaliating against an opponent by using his stick as a weapon to make forceful and direct head contact,” said the Department of Player Safety. “Players are simply not permitted to flagrantly violate league playing rules because they feel the retribution is justified.”
Frustration over the suspension was palpable for the Maple Leafs, but there’s also a certain inevitability at play here. The forward was suspended three games in last year’s post-season for his hit on Tommy Wingels, then a Bruin. Similarly, he was tagged with a crosschecking penalty for the remaining four games of the 2015-2016 after nailing Detroit’s Luke Glendening.
“Obviously, any time you put yourself in a situation where someone else gets to decide your future, it’s probably not a good thing in anything you do in life,” Toronto head coach Mike Babcock said. “Naz is a good player and an important guy on our team. It’s just [like] he’s injured…move on.”
With Game Three underway Monday, the Maple Leafs are hoping to “move on” in the best possible way. The series is current tied.
(Photo credit: NHL)