The player who provided a spark for the Rangers against the Flyers may have just seen his playoffs come to an abrupt end.

After former Ranger Brandon Prust laid out one-time teammate Derek Stepan with a late, blindside hit, he became a target for the Rangers’ fourth line.  The play moved deep in the offensive zone and, seizing the opportunity, Dan Carcillo went seeking revenge. He drove Prust into the boards, getting a two minute minor for charging.   Derek Dorsett jumped in, dropping the gloves to fight the former Blueshirt.  Linesman Steve Miller watched the two tough guys scrap, ready to step in.  That’s when things got ugly for Carcillo.

Carcillo attempted to join the fracas but was restrained by linesman Scott Driscoll.  The Ranger tough guy fought for his freedom, elbowing and shoving the linesman like a frustrated child.  In the words of referee Mike Leggo, “You can’t do that.”

Driscoll signaled to the officials that Carcillo was done for the game.!/DarrenDreger/status/469652266513756160

Rule 40 – Physical Abuse of Officials

Here’s an excerpt from the NHL rulebook:

40.1 Game Misconduct – Any player who deliberately applies physical force in any manner against an official, in any manner attempts to injure an official, physically demeans, or deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation shall receive a game misconduct penalty. In addition, the following (40.2, 40.3, 40.4) disciplinary penalties shall apply.

40.3 Automatic Suspension – Category II – Any player who deliberately applies physical force to an official in any manner (excluding actions as set out in Category I), which physical force is applied without intent to injure, or who spits on an official, shall be automatically suspended for not less than ten (10) games.

40.4 Automatic Suspension – Category III – Any player who, by his actions, physically demeans an official or physically threatens an official by (but not limited to) throwing a stick or any other piece of equipment or object at or in the general direction of an official, shooting the puck at or in the general direction of an official, spitting at or in the general direction of an official, or who deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation shall be suspended for not less than three (3) games.

The final decision is up to Hockey Operations — not the Department of Player Safety formerly headed by Brendan Shanahan.  That means the decision falls to Colin Campbell, the league’s Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations.

Based on that, I would expect Carcillo to sit for three games. It didn’t appear he had intent to injure, and the act did occur as he was trying to join an altercation.

Here’s another angle of the play:

After the game, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault spoke to the media.  “Well, [Carcillo] can’t do that, obviously, what he did there, but we’ll let the league handle that,” said Vigneault. “I believe if a penalty would have been called on Prust [for the hit on Stepan], it probably wouldn’t have happened, but there is nothing we can do about it.”  He added, “I didn’t think Dan deserved to get a penalty on [the initial hit on Prust] and Dorsett obviously felt that they went after one of our top players and he wanted to do something about it.”

Rory Boylen of The Hockey News provided some excellent thoughts on the matter:

The moment shoving, sticking or getting physical with a referee is brought down to become equal to the current punishments for player-on-player infractions – which are too soft as currently constituted – is the moment it becomes (relatively) acceptable. This is a non-starter. Whether or not you believe players have less respect for each other these days, the in-game player respect for officials and their jobs must always be protected. It’s a slippery slope.

It is the linesman’s job in this situation to get Carcillo – a recognized instigator – out of the fray and off the ice. The linesman is there to prevent the scrum from escalating and Carcillo crossed the line, plain and simple. It’s clearly not an intent to injure, but you can’t treat referee interference with kid gloves. Let’s talk about improving supplemental discipline, rather than focusing on Rules 40.2 and 40.3. That’s the only standard that’s correct here.

It wasn’t the worst play of Game 3, but Carcillo messed up. There is simply no defense for shoving a referee.

Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser was somewhat sympathetic, based on what he perceived as mishandling of the situation by linesman Scott Driscoll:

Repeat Offender

This is not the first time Carcillo’s had a run in with the law on-ice.  From Paul Stewart’s always-excellent column at HockeyBuzz:

In the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, while still a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, Carcillo was given a crosschecking penalty at 11:31 of the first period. Boston which won the game to sweep the series, scored on the power 31 seconds later.

Between periods, Carcillo charged at the Officials’ dressing room, verbally abusing the crew and threatening to start a physical confrontation. Still not content to leave bad enough alone, Carcillo provoked a verbal confrontation with linesman Brian Murphy when the Flyers came out to the bench for the start of the second period.

Carcillo’s had his positive moments on the ice in the postseason. He scored key goals against the Flyers in Games 3 and 7 of their opening round series.  After an ineffective start against the Penguins, Carcillo was scratched for six of the team’s next seven games.

Whatever the ruling, Carcillo may have played his last game in New York.  The winger, who earned $850,000 in 2013-14, is a UFA after the season.

UPDATED (5/24):  Carcillo has been suspended for 10 games. 

UPDATED (6/3): Carcillo’s suspension has been reduced to 6 games.

Per Rule 40.4, a player who “deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation shall be suspended for not less than three (3) games.” Due to the extent of the altercation, Bettman has opted to exceed the minimum of three and have Carcillo sit out for six.  He’s eligible to return in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Related: Behind the Appeal: Testimony from Carcillo & Driscoll

From the NHL:

Carcillo had originally been assessed a suspension under Rule 40.3 for deliberately applying physical force to an official. A violation of that particular Rule requires a minimum suspension of “not less than ten (10) games.”

After considering Carcillo’s appeal during a hearing at the NHL’s New York office on Friday, May 30, the Commissioner ruled that Carcillo’s actions were more appropriately deemed a violation of Rule 40.4 for deliberately applying “physical force to an official for the sole purpose of getting free of such official during or immediately following an altercation.” The Commissioner determined that as appropriately re-classified under Rule 40.4, and under the totality of the circumstances, a suspension of six (6) games was the proper penalty.

The National Hockey League does not and will not, under any circumstances, tolerate or condone the abuse, physical or otherwise, of our on-ice officials. The strict and proper enforcement of Rule 40, therefore, plays a critical role in safeguarding the integrity of the game by maintaining a safe and respectful working environment for our officials.

As Carcillo already has served three (3) games of the suspension that was originally assessed on May 23, he will be eligible to return for Game 4 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.

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