In Thursday night’s game against The Washington Capitals, at 11:03 of the second period, Brett Connolly was the victim of an illegal check to the head by Mike Green. Connolly and Dmitry Orlov were battling for the puck. Connolly broke away and skated behind the net. Orlov skated into him, Connolly ducked slightly to avoid the hit. Orlov did nothing wrong, as his body was positioned correctly and it was a clean hit. Had that been the only hit, there would have been no cause for discipline on the play. Green pushed towards the players to help his teammate out. When he saw that Orlov had Connolly pinned against the boards, he paused, positioned himself, and put his elbow up before plowing into Connolly. Who knows if he actually meant to elbow Connolly in the head. From the video, however, you can see that it wasn’t a spur of the moment move, it wasn’t so quick that he didn’t have time to think before reacting. He saw what was happening and chose to go into Connolly with his elbow. Connolly lay on the ice for a few moments before getting up. Though visibly shaken by the hit, he was not hurt and returned in the third period.
This was a violation to Rule 48.1 which states A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head, where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact, is not permitted.
Green has been suspended once and fined once for similar incidences in his seven season NHL career. In a hearing on Friday it was determined that he will be suspended for three games with out pay. This equals out to $85,135.14 which under the Collective Bargaining Agreement will go into the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
No penalty was called at the time of the hit. Coach Boucher told media in a post game interview that he does not blame the referee because they can’t see 100% of everything that happens on the ice, though he did say “The head targeted was clear.” Brett Connolly took the high road when asked about the incident with a classy answer to The Tampa Bay Times. “I don’t know what happened”, he said, “His elbows were up, but I’m not going to point any fingers. It’s a hockey play and it happens. No hard feelings.”
I found this article to be helpful and explanatory from The Washington Post. You can see Brendan Shanahan, VIP of Player Safety, explain in detail the reasoning for the three game suspension decision here:
@HulaDolly @BoltsByTheBay (Twitter)