Goaltenders are not fair game. That’s a lesson Cody Eakin will have some time to think about.
The Stars forward has been suspended four games for charging New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
The play happened midway through the first period of Thursday night’s game at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Eakin was given a major penalty for charging along with a game misconduct by referees Eric Furlatt and Tom Chmielewski.
“Approaching with speed,” says the NHL’s video from the Department of Player Safety, “Eakin comes around the net and delivers a high hard hit directly to Lundqvist, sending him to the ice. This is charging against the goaltender.”
Rule 42 covers charging, with the applicable section as follows:
A minor or major penalty shall be imposed on a player who skates or jumps into, or charges an opponent in any manner.
Charging shall mean the actions of a player who, as a result of distance traveled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner. A “charge” may be the result of a check into the boards, into the goal frame or in open ice.
A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease area. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an opposing player makes unnecessary contact with a goalkeeper. However, incidental contact, at the discretion of the Referee, will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.
“The contact Eakin makes with Lundqvist is not incidental, rather, it is a forceful blow,” says the Player Safety video. “In our opinion, Eakin does not make a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.”
“Rather than making such an effort to lean, jump around, or otherwise avoid or minimize the force of the hit, Eakin loads up, braces for contact, delivers a deliberate and forceful hit to Lundqvist.”
Prior to this incident, Eakin had never been suspended nor fined by the NHL. He’ll forfeit $85,555.56 as a result of the suspension.