Boston Bruins forward A.J. Greer has been suspended one game for a cross-check to the face of Montreal’s Mike Hoffman.

The two players lined up along the boards for a neutral-zone faceoff with 2:52 remaining in the first period of Thursday’s game. The pair exchanged light slashes before Greer escalated the stickwork, delivering a cross-check to Hoffman’s face as linesman Trent Knorr prepared to drop the puck.



The officials separated the players. Greer headed to the box, then right off the ice; Hoffman received medical attention at the bench before also leaving the ice.

Referees Graham Skilliter and Furman South reviewed the play, confirming the major penalty, which includes a mandatory game misconduct.

It was a straightforward call. Even Boston announced Jack Edwards agreed with the penalty. From Rule 59.

Cross-checking [is the] action of using the shaft of the stick between the two hands to forcefully check an opponent. A minor [or major] penalty, at the discretion of the Referee based on the severity of the contact, shall be imposed on a player who “cross checks” an opponent.When a major penalty is assessed for cross-checking, an automatic game misconduct penalty shall be imposed on the offending player.

The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by cross-checking.

Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery discussed the infraction.

“We talk about playing with emotion – which is great – but not getting emotional,” Montgomery said. “It’s something we can learn from in the playoffs, because you can’t take those kinds of penalties in the playoffs.”

From the NHL’s Department of Player Safety:

As the video shows, the two set up next to each other before a face-off in the neutral zone. They exchange light stick work and then come together further as Greer takes a step towards Hoffman. Hoffman raises his stick to Greer’s chest in a defensive manner to push him backwards. As he is doing so, Greer raises his stick above Hoffman’s with two hands and delivers a blow that hits Hoffman directly in the face. This is cross-checking.

It is important to note that this is not a case of a stick directed towards the body that rides up the opponent. This cross check is delivered cleanly to the head of Hoffman and while we understand Greer’s assertion that he does not intend to strike Hoffman in this manner, players are responsible for their stick at all times. This is a careless cross check delivered during a stoppage in play that strikes an opponent at a dangerous height with the force necessary to warrant supplemental discipline.

This is Greer’s first suspension.  He forfeits $4,121.62 in salary as a result of the ban.