Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Roman Polak was ejected from Wednesday night’s game against Columbus for boarding Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand.
The hit happened in the Leafs’ zone just one minute into the final period of play, with Toronto leading 3-2. Polak was given a five-minute-major and a game misconduct for boarding.
Bjorkstrand was slow to get up. He did not return to the game.
While Polak’s hit was a dangerous one which caused an unfortunate injury to Bjorkstrand, there are a few factors working in his favor for a shorter suspension.
Polak comes in with a clean rap sheet, having no prior suspensions. The league will also weigh Bjorkstrand’s actions leading up to the hit. While the onus is on Polak to deliver a clean, legal hit, Bjorkstrand changed directions, which will be taken into consideration. From Rule 41:
In determining whether such contact could have been avoided, the circumstances of the check, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the check or whether the check was unavoidable can be considered.
Despite Bjorkstrand’s turn, though, Polak did not change his course and made no attempt to minimize contact. Expect two games.
Polak’s hearing is set for Thursday.