Dallas Stars forward Corey Perry’s Winter Classic ended just 38 seconds into his first shift.
Perry was ejected just 2:44 into Wednesday’s outdoor game for elbowing Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis, becoming the first player tossed from a Winter Classic.
The two players came together as Ellis held the puck in along the blueline and fired a shot on the Stars goal. As he released the puck, Perry – cutting across the ice – caught Ellis with an elbow.
“It was an awkward play. I reached up to try and deflect the puck,” said Perry. “It’s unfortunate.”
Referee Steve Kozari, positioned at center ice, immediately signaled a penalty. After a brief discussion with the other officials, Perry was ejected.
Here’s Rule 45 – Elbowing:
Elbowing shall mean the use of an extended elbow in a manner that may or may not cause injury.
The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a minor penalty, based on the degree of violence, to a player guilty of elbowing an opponent.
A major penalty, at the discretion of the Referee, shall be imposed on any player who uses his elbow to foul an opponent. A major penalty must be imposed under this rule for a foul resulting in an injury to the face or head of an opponent. When a major penalty is imposed under this rule for a foul resulting in an injury to the face or head of an opponent, a game misconduct penalty shall also be imposed.
The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by elbowing.
“That was a bad hit,” said Preds defenseman Roman Josi. “[It’s] the kind of hit that you’re trying to get out of the game. He’s shooting the puck, and he gets him right in the head. I thought it was a really bad hit.”
Predators forward Austin Watson agreed.
“I didn’t like the hit. It was high. It was elbow extended. I’m sure the league will look at it,” said Watson. “It sucks for [Ellis]. One of our best players – a guy that gives an incredible amount to this team, and he misses an entire Winter Classic. And it sucks for [Perry], too. He doesn’t get to play in a game because of something like that.”
Nashville scored twice on the resulting five-minute power play to take a 2-0 lead.
“I’ve played with Ryan before,” Perry said after the game. “I know him personally. It’s very unintentional. I didn’t mean to hurt him. I hope he’s okay.”
Dallas interim coach Rick Bowness admitted during the game that the officials made the right call on the play.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Stars interim head coach Rick Bowness, of the hit. “It’s one of those things that happens during the course of a game. Corey Perry is a great competitor. A wonderful, wonderful player. Sometimes in hockey when you go to make a hit, you get into some unfortunate situations.”
Perry’s crossed the line with Player Safety in the past, though it’s been a while. His last suspension was four games for a violent check on Minnesota’s Jason Zucker in March of 2013. He was also suspended for four games in 2009 for elbowing Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux.
Player Safety announced that Perry will have a hearing on Friday.