Chicago Blackhawks forward Brett Connolly has been suspended for four games for interference on Dallas Stars forward Tanner Kero by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
The illegal hit – which Player Safety deemed a “high, forceful hit with substantial head contact” – came just 2:58 into the first period of Saturday’s game in Dallas.
Connolly was given a major penalty for interference, along with a game misconduct. Here’s the NHL rulebook on interference (Rule 56.1):
A “pick” is the action of a player who checks an opponent who is not in possession of the puck and is unaware of the impending check/hit. A player who is aware of an impending hit, not deemed to be a legal “battle for the puck,” may not be interfered with by a player or goalkeeper delivering a “pick.” A player delivering a “pick” is one who moves into an opponent’s path without initially having body position, thereby taking him out of the play. When this is done, an interference penalty shall be assessed.
The referee has the option of a minor or major penalty, depending on the degree of violence of the hit. If a major penalty is called on a hit that results in an injury, the player is also given a mandatory game misconduct. Additionally, the on-ice officials are able to review any major penalties called on the ice to confirm or reduce the penalty.
From the NHL Department of Player Safety:
“Fully aware of Kero’s presence and with a substantial amount of time to change his path, avoid the contact entirely, move toward the wall to seal off the boards, or do more to minimize the impact to Kero, Connolly braces himself for impact and skates directly through his opponent.
“Because Kero is never close to being in possession of the puck, he is in no way braced for contact, making him substantially more vulnerable.”
Kero was taken off the ice on a stretcher and brought to a local hospital for evaluation.
Derek King said Brett Connolly is a little “shaken up” after the Tanner Kero incident.
King said he’s going to have a talk with him after the game to calm him down: “He’s not that type of player.” #Blackhawks
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) December 19, 2021
Connolly forfeits $70,000 in salary as a result of his suspension. He had not previously been fined nor suspended by Player Safety.