Despite Keith Gretzky’s best efforts to prove his innocence, Connor McDavid has been handed a two-game suspension by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for his hit on Nick Leddy in last night’s win.
Here’s their justification:
Edmonton’s Connor McDavid has been suspended for two games for an Illegal Check to the Head on NY Islanders’ Nick Leddy. https://t.co/PYB9MKHKCu
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) February 22, 2019
According to the DoPS, McDavid used his elbow and made Leddy’s head the primary point of contact when the hit was avoidable. This means that both factors of the illegal check to the head rule (the head is the first point of contact and the head contact is avoidable) are met on this hit. The explanation video can be watched here.
Keith Gretzky, as I said above, tried to defend McDavid by saying that Leddy stumbled and McDavid actively tried to avoid the collision. The DoPS didn’t buy it.
— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) February 22, 2019
Personally, I could have seen a one-game suspension given McDavid did get his elbow up on Leddy’s head, but two games is a major stretch. McDavid has zero history of being a dirty player and we’ve seen plenty of similar hits go completely unpunished by the DoPS. I mean, Evgeni Malkin tried to chop a guy’s head off with his stick Legend of Zelda style and only got one game. How about this random elbow from Drew Doughty on McDavid back in January? Is this really worse?
This is a really, really tough break for the Oilers. The team had picked up three of four points in their last two games and last night’s tight win over the Islanders looked like it could have potentially been a momentum-changer for the Oilers. Now they’ll be without McDavid for key games against Anaheim (on Saturday) and Nashville (on the road on Monday).
McDavid will be nice and rested for his return against the Leafs in Toronto on Wednesday.