Columbus Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert has been suspended one game for cross-checking Pittsburgh Penguins winger Tom Kuhnhackl during Game 2 of their first-round series.
The incident came with 39 seconds left in Friday’s 4-1 Penguins victory. Calvert delivered a cross-check to the shoulder of an unsuspecting Kuhnhackl, breaking his stick in the process. The Jackets’ winger then skated around and shoved Kuhnhackl to the ice.
Calvert was given a minor for cross-checking by referees Dan O’Halloran and Ian Walsh.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety explained that this infraction rose to a level that merited supplemental discipline.
“This is not a hockey play,” Patrick Burke of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety said, “in the sense that it had nothing to do with pursuit of the puck or establishing body position.”
“This play falls under the category of message sending. Late in the game with the score out of reach, Calvert delivers this blow to an opponent that he will be facing again in the next game.”
“Dangerous or retaliatory plays delivered in the closing minutes of a playoff game will be viewed in context and punished accordingly.”
Player Safety had the right idea. Suspend those incidents that are away from the play and not true hockey plays. There’s no puck battle, no borderline hit. This is a premeditated attack on an unsuspecting player.
The NHL had an opportunity to send a message that these kinds of plays will not be tolerated but issuing a multiple-game suspension.
A one game ban acknowledges the egregious nature of the cross-check, but falls short of ‘punishing it accordingly’ in the context of the situation.
This is Calvert’s first run-in with NHL Player Safety. He’s not been fined or suspended previously in his 347-game career.
Calvert loses no salary as a result of this suspension, as players do not receive a salary during the postseason.