Vegas Golden Knights forward Brett Howden has been suspended for two games for an illegal check to the head of Seattle Kraken forward Brandon Tanev.

The hit came 6:00 into the third period of Tuesday night’s game in Las Vegas.  Howden was given a match penalty by referees Wes McCauley and Chris Lee. 



Here’s the ruling from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety:

As the video shows, the Kraken collect the puck on the wall. Tanev circles up ice as a passing option for his teammate, with Howden pursuing from center. The puck is moved towards Tanev. As it arrives, Howden  delivers a high, hard body check that makes the head the main point of contact on a hit where such head contact was avoidable. This is an illegal check to the head.

It is important to note that both elements of the illegal check to the head rule are satisfied on this play. First, the head is the main point of contact as Howden’s shoulder makes direct contact with Tanev’s head and it is the head that absorbs the majority of the force of the check. Second, the head contact on this play is avoidable. Howden chooses an angle of approach that cuts across the front of Tanev’s body, missing his core and picking his head. If Howden wants to deliver this hit, he must stay low and choose an angle that hits through Tanev’s shoulder and core rather than one that makes the head the main point of contact.


Rule 48 covers Illegal Checks to the Head:

[An illegal check to the head is] a hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable is not permitted.

In determining whether contact with an opponent’s head was avoidable, the circumstances of the hit including the following shall be considered:

(i) Whether the player attempted to hit squarely through the opponent’s body and the head was not “picked” as a result of poor timing, poor angle of approach, or unnecessary extension of the body upward or outward.

(ii) Whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position by assuming a posture that made head contact on an otherwise full body check unavoidable.

(iii) Whether the opponent materially changed the position of his body or head immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit in a way that significantly contributed to the head contact.

The Vegas forward has not previously been fined nor suspended by the National Hockey League.

Howden forfeits $19,791.66 in salary as a result of the suspension.  He’s eligible to return to the Golden Knights’ lineup on Tuesday, October 17, when they host the Dallas Stars.