Edmonton Oilers forward Evander Kane has been suspended one game for boarding Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri.
Kane delivered a push to Kadri’s lower back that caused him to fall dangerously into the boards early in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, causing an injury that may keep Kadri sidelined for the remainder of the playoffs.
Kane received a major penalty for boarding on the play, which was confirmed after video review by referees Wes McCauley and Eric Furlatt. Had there been an injury to the head or face on the play, a mandatory game misconduct would have also been handed out. From Rule 41:
A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously. The severity of the penalty, based upon the impact with the boards, shall be at the discretion of the Referee.
There is an enormous amount of judgment involved in the application of this rule by the Referees. The onus is on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a defenseless position and if so, he must avoid or minimize contact. However, in determining whether such contact could have been avoided, the circumstances of the check, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the check or whether the check was unavoidable can be considered. This balance must be considered by the Referees when applying this rule.
The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a major penalty, based on the degree of violence of the impact with the boards, to a player guilty of boarding 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 shall be imposed.
Kadri headed off for medical attention, which was later reported to be a broken right thumb.
“The puck went wide, dribbled into the corner and I know [Kadri] likes to reverse hit,” said Kane of the play. “I was just trying to get up on him and that’s really all I did. Unfortunately, he went into the boards awkwardly and hurt his hand, and that was unfortunate.”
Here’s the NHL’s ruling:
The Avalanche enter the zone on the rush with Kane back checking through center. The puck is bucket sent through the slot where it bounces off Kadri’s stick and into the corner. Kadri and Kane approach the loose puck with speed. As they approach the corner, Kadri moves in front of Kane in order to establish body position between Kane and the puck. In response and before either player can touch the puck, Kane raises his stick and delivers a shove to the back of Kadri, driving him into the boards with force and causing an injury. This is boarding.
It is important to note that this is not a scenario in which Kadri puts himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to the hit in a way that turns a legal check into an illegal one. While we acknowledge that Kadri positions himself in front of Kane in order to shield the puck, this action is not a sudden or sharp movement that changes the nature of Kane’s hit in a way that he cannot control. And while we acknowledge Kane’s argument that Kadri loses his footing as he approaches the boards, we believe that this is a direct result of the shove and is not an unavoidable occurrence that causes an unfortunate accident. This shove is delivered at a dangerous distance from the boards while the two players are traveling at speed and causes an injury.
The NHL has Kane as having been suspended three times, but that total only includes Department of Player Safety decisions. We’ve got him for six.
This is Kane’s sixth suspension, with his most recent prior a 21-game ban for violating league COVID protocols. His previous offenses were a bit more physical. Kane sat for two games for boarding in 2014, one playoff game for an illegal check in 2019, three games for abuse of officials in 2019, and three games for elbowing in 2020. He was also suspended one game by the Buffalo Sabres for violating team rules.
Kane has also been fined twice, but, I mean, money problems… right?