Winnipeg Jets forward Brendan Lemieux has been suspended two games for an illegal check to the head of Florida Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck.
Lemieux caught Trocheck with a blindside hit in the neutral zone when the two teams met on Saturday in Helsinki, Finland, as part of the NHL Global Series. Lemieux was given a match penalty on the play and ejected from the game by referees Gord Dwyer and Dan O’Rourke, He also picked up five minutes for fighting Florida’s MacKenzie Weeger, who challenged Lemieux after the hit.
From the NHL’s Department of Player Safety:
As [Trocheck] releases the puck, Lemieux – who has been backchecking through the neutral zone – delivers a direct shoulder to the head of Trocheck, knocking him to the ice. This is an illegal check to the head.”
Player Safety noted that the head was clearly the main point of contact on the hit and that such contact was avoidable. In accordance with the Rule 48, Trocheck did not materially change the position of his head or body in a way that contributed to the head being the main point of contact. From Rule 48:
[An Illegal Check to the Head is a] hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable is not permitted.
In determining whether contact with an opponent’s head was avoidable, the circumstances of the hit including the following shall be considered:
(i) Whether the player attempted to hit squarely through the opponent’s body and the head was not “picked” as a result of poor timing, poor angle of approach, or unnecessary extension of the body upward or outward.
(ii) Whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position by assuming a posture that made head contact on an otherwise full body check unavoidable.
(iii) Whether the opponent materially changed the position of his body or head immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit in a way that significantly contributed to the head contact.
The league also noted that Trocheck was eligible to be hit on the play, though the onus was on Lemieux to ensure a legal body check.
“If Lemieux wants to deliver this check, he must take an angle or approach that hits through Trocheck’s shoulder and core rather than picking his head and making it the main point of contact.”
This is the first suspension for Winnipeg’s Brendan Lemieux. He forfeits $9,023.30 in salary as a result of the suspension.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety is cracking down on illegal hits to the head. Last season saw two suspensions for illegal checks to the head, with suspended players missing a combined two preseason games and two regular season games. So far in the 2018-19 season, three suspensions have been issued for illegal checks to the head, combining for 25 games.
For all 2018-19 suspensions and fines: NHL Suspension & Fine Tracker