The NHL Department of Player Safety has spoken: Los Angeles Kings winger Tanner Pearson will sit out the rest of the preseason, as well as L.A.’s first two regular season games, for a check to the head of Edmonton Oilers’ defenceman Brandon Davidson.
L.A. Kings’ Pearson suspended for remainder of preseason and 2 regular season games for illegal check to the head. https://t.co/OTUFonsvCW
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) October 5, 2016
The NHL’s explanation of this suspension seems pretty straight-forward to me, with the bullet points at the end of the explanatory video summing it up nicely. This was clearly an illegal check to the head; whatever Pearson’s intention he didn’t make contact with the body. Pearson doesn’t have a track record of dirty play, which works in his favour. Davidson hasn’t played since, which works against him.
Two regular season games doesn’t seem like a very long time, but the league typically doesn’t throw the book at first-time offenders.
For the second straight day Davidson, Versteeg are not on the ice. Nor is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) October 5, 2016
The bigger question is how much this hit is going to impact Davidson. From what the coach has said in his availabilities, it doesn’t sound like the second-year NHL’er will be out of the lineup for very long, which will be great news if it plays out that way.
Davidson had a wonderful rookie campaign and was a major bright spot in another difficult Edmonton season last year. Any time he misses is going to be noticed. On a more personal level, this is a player who has already experienced adversity on his road to the NHL, and one hopes that he can have a long and healthy career.