Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik spent 10 years doling out heavy hits for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Now he’ll miss three playoff games after an illegal check against a former teammate.
Orpik illegally checked Pens blueliner Olli Maatta at 4:13 of the first period of Saturday’s Game 2 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. The Capitals defender was given a minor penalty for interference by referees Dan O’Halloran and Kevin Pollock.
Maatta did not return to the game. He’ll also reportedly miss Monday’s rematch in Pittsburgh.
Here’s the ruling from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety:
Interference is one of the lengthier rules in the NHL’s rulebook, spanning three pages at over 1,274 words. In its simplest form, a minor penalty shall be imposed on a player who interferes with or impedes the progress of an opponent who is not in possession of the puck. The interference call can escalate to a major, depending on the degree of violence, with a match penalty when it results in injury to an opponent.
Orpik accepted the suspension without presenting a counter-argument during his hearing.
“I think [the suspension] was fair. It was intended to be a hard hit, definitely not at his head but I don’t think there is anything that you can argue that it was definitely late,” Oprik said. “I think that was pretty black and white. I said that during my hearing [Sunday]. So, I’m just disappointed. It’s a split-second decision you make and I just gotta live with it.”
“It was a bad decision. It was late. Obviously there was no intention to hit him in the head, but that was the result and that’s why I’m not playing.”
“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit that everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game. That’s how I saw it.”‘
Pittsburgh defenseman Trevor Daley agreed with the decision to suspend Orpik, especially to set the example as the types of hits players should avoid making.
“I think [Orpik’s hit on Maatta] definitely deserved something. Now it’s the debate how many, but it wasn’t a pretty one when you watched it after.”
“I’m sure that will probably be on the video that they show all the players at the start of the year. We as players don’t want stuff like that to happen. We ask the league to protect us on plays like that and they show videos of hits that you’re not supposed to do, and I think that one was one of them.”
Orpik will be eligible to return for Game 6.