Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba won’t face supplemental discipline from the Department of Player Safety for his hit that injured Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski.
Dumba was initially assessed a major penalty for the hit by referees Dan O’Rourke and T.J. Luxmore. After review, the referees ruled it a clean hit, with no penalty on the play… at least none for the hit itself.
The hit came 12:02 into the second period of Game 1 of the opening series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Wild and Stars. Pavelski, pursued by Minnesota’s Ryan Hartman, flicked a backhand towards the opposing net. Less than a second after releasing the puck, Pavelski was hit from the side by Dumba. Both players were sent sprawling, with Pavelski’s own stick making contact with his helmet, followed by Pavelski’s head hitting the ice. The Stars forward was motionless on the ice for a few moments, before later being helped off for medical attention; he did not return to the game.
Dumba headed to the penalty box as the refs took a second look at the play.
“To be honest, I thought it was a clean hit,” said Dumba. “I figured [the officials] were going to see the same. [It was] shoulder on shoulder.”
Ultimately, O’Rourke and Luxmore agreed. After review, the pair rescinded the penalty for the hit completely.
Referees were given the ability to review major penalties in 2019. Coming into this season, the rule was tweaked to allow them to not only reduce a call from a major or match to a minor, but to eliminate the call completely. That decision is made entirely by the on-ice officials, not by the league’s Toronto-based Situation Room.
When the dust settled, the only players penalized were the Stars’ Max Domi and Dumba.
“I don’t even know why I got the roughing,” said Dumba. “Probably because I was just in the box already.”
Dumba was called for a roughing penalty, drawn by Pavelski, according to the league’s official report. From Rule 51:
Roughing is a punching or slamming motion with or without the glove on the hand, normally directed at the head or face of an opponent … A minor penalty shall be imposed on a player who strikes an opponent with his hand or fist.
Clearly, there was no roughing against Pavelski on the play. Dumba did exchange gloved punches with the Stars’ Max Domi, who also received a matching roughing penalty, along with a ten-minute misconduct penalty. We’ll chalk this up to an accounting error. Roughing penalties to both Dumba and Domi seem appropriate here.
“One of your best players goes down like that, that’s hockey,” said Domi, on going after Dumba. “I saw Joe laying there and you never want to see a teammate, especially a guy like that, down there.”
To his credit, DeBoer stuck up for the refs’ decision on the play.
“We have the best officials in the world,” said Stars head coach Pete DeBoer. “They called a five [minute penalty]. They reviewed, which is the right thing to do. If they reviewed it and they decided it wasn’t a bad hit, I guess it’s not for me to argue with that. They got to look at it from multiple different angles and that’s the decision they made.”
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety apparently agreed, as they’ve opted not to levy any supplemental discipline – no fine, no suspension – for the hit.
No word on Pavelski’s status for Game 2.