Carolina Hurricanes forward Nino Niederreiter has been suspended one game for slashing Axel Jonsson-Fjallby of the Washington Capitals.
Washington winger Tom Wilson checked Niederreiter into the Caps bench, losing his helmet in the process. While the Caps players did their best to avoid contact with the Carolina forward, his stick got caught up in Garnet Hathaway’s jersey. He pulled it free and swung at the bench, catching Jonsson-Fjallby in the helmet.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety limited the ban to one game based on the severity of the slash – or lack thereof.
“We understand that Niederreiter is frustrated on this play and we agree with his assertion that the slash here was delivered with minimal force,” said DOPS in the suspension video. “It should be understood that it is only because of the lack of force that this play is not met with more severe discipline.”
While that’s understandable, the slash was also directed toward a player off the ice. We’re a bit surprised the NHL didn’t ratchet it up another game due to the interaction with a player on the bench. It may not have been forceful, but it was intentional and clearly not at all a hockey play. Those types of plays – clear intent, no hockey value – would likely be the easiest to clean up through stricter disciplinary measures.
Niederreiter was given a minor penalty for slashing on the play.
Per Canes Stats, Niederreiter is the first Hurricanes player to be suspended since Kevin Westgarth in 2013.