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Photo Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

Connor McDavid to have hearing over headshot on Nick Leddy

According to the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, Connor McDavid will have a hearing today over the hit he landed on New York Islanders’ defenceman, Nick Leddy.

During the first period of last night’s game against the Islanders, Connor McDavid received a two-minute Check to the Head penalty for a hit he threw on Nick Leddy. Leddy was forced to leave for a few minutes in the quiet room, McDavid went to the penalty box, and both players were back on the ice within a few minutes. As you’ll see in the replay, McDavid was certainly targetting Leddy, who was mid-shot at the time of contact, for a hit but I highly doubt he was targeting the player’s head.

Take a look:

After watching this replay at least a dozen times or more, I can’t help but feel like the contact to the head was incidental and the fact that Connor kept his arm tucked in tells me that he wasn’t intentionally trying to hit Leddy in the head. With Leddy already hunched over for the purposes of a shot, his head was lower to the ice than it would have normally been. That said, the DOPS felt that the hit merits a phone call with the Oilers captain and now we’re left waiting to see what kind of punishment there will be. This morning on Twitter, Jason Gregor compared McDavid’s hit on Leddy to the one Gino Malkin threw on TJ Oshie last season that resulted in a fine rather than a suspension.

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After dumping the puck off to his winger, Malkin sees Oshie coming and pops him in the head with a stiff shoulder to the chops, sending the Caps forward flying to the ice. Now, you could argue that Malkin looks like he was bracing for impact on an incoming hit rather than throwing a check as Connor did on Leddy, but the point is that there’s room for interpretation and it will be interesting to see how the league rules on this.

Gregor also found this hit by Martel on Stecher that went unsuspended despite looking more dangerous, in my opinion:

The point of including these clips is to show that there is some variance in how these situations are handled and that a suspension is certainly not guaranteed. There are times when the Department of Player Safety concludes that incidental contact to the head does occur when guys come together. There’s also the angle that Drew Remenda brought up during the broadcast. If the officials had been doing their job and called the multiple infractions on Connor in the moments leading up to the hit then perhaps this whole mess could have been avoided. Then again, that would mean that the officials actually have to do their job and make calls for cheating against Connor and I don’t know how likely that is to happen.

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Regardless of what the refs call or don’t call, it will be interesting to see what happens with this phone hearing. Obviously, the Oilers desperately need McDavid in their lineup and losing him for another game would be another kick to the shins in what is already going down as a soul-sucking season of doom. But will he be suspended? My personal opinion, and I’m admittedly biased here, is that Connor should probably receive a fine for the hit based on the fact that Leddy was mid-shot at the time of impact and also that McDavid has a clean record over his four-year career, which might give him a little extra leash for his first offence. That said, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a game or two because the Department of Player Safety wants to remove headshots from the game and making an example of the league’s best player would certainly send a message to the rest of the league.

What do you guys think?

McDAVID’S SEASON SO FAR

Season GP G A P +/- PIM PPG PPP SHG SHP GWG OTG S S%
2018-19 58 32 53 85 -2 18 8 28 0 0 8 2 186 17.2
NHL Career 267 119 222 341 44 88 19 89 2 6 26 6 816 14.6

Source: NHL, Department of Player Safety, 2/22/2019 – 7:41 am MT