Coyotes forward Josh Archibald has been suspended for two games for an illegal check to the head of Nashville Predators forward Ryan Hartman.
The hit, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety called a “high, hard hit that made Hartman’s head the main point of contact” came at 18:19 of the second period of Thursday’s game in Arizona.
Hartman left the ice for evaluation but later returned to the game. Archibald was given a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head by referees Reid Anderson and Kelly Sutherland.
“I thought it was pretty severe but I only saw it one time from the bench,” said Predators coach Peter Laviolette. “I saw his head snap pretty hard. I questioned [the call] and that was the answer I got — two minutes.”
Under the current NHL Rule Book, an illegal check to the head may only be penalized by a minor penalty or a match penalty if there is intent to injure. Officials cannot assess a double-minor or major for an illegal check to the head.
From Rule 48:
48.1 Illegal Check to the Head – 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.
48.2 Minor Penalty – For violation of this rule, a minor penalty shall be assessed.
48.3 Major Penalty – There is no provision for a major penalty for this rule.
48.4 Game Misconduct Penalty – There is no provision for a game misconduct for this rule.
48.5 Match Penalty – The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head.
Archibald forfeits $7,258.06 as a result of the suspension. He has never previously received a fine or suspension from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.