After an in-person hearing, the NHL has suspended Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland five games for an illegal hit to the head on Detroit's Justin Abdelkader. After it was announced that he would have an in-person hearing, it was all but certain that Engelland would be suspended, but five games for a first time offender seems pretty harsh.
To clear up any confusion, if a player has to have an in-person hearing with the league, it means they can suspend the player for more than five games. The Boston Bruins Shawn Thornton for example, was given a 15-game suspension after an in-person hearing for his cheap shot on Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik.
The hit in question is without a doubt a penalty, but a five game suspension doesn't seem correct.
As the puck squirts out in the neutral zone, both Abdelkader and Engelland race to chip the puck around the other player in order to get the puck deep. Engelland, realizing he is a step behind Abdelkader, decides to try and finish his check as Abdelkader sticks the puck around him.
By reaching out, Abdelkader puts himself in a very vulnerable position, and the shoulder of Engelland catches him right on the chin.
As I mentioned earlier, the hit is definitely a penalty, but a major penalty, game misconduct and five-game suspension should not be assessed to a hit of this nature.
It's impossible to say that the head was targeted on the play because Engelland is simply trying finish his check clean when Abdelkader reaches for the puck and puts himself in an awkward position.
The league has taken a firm stance on head injuries due to the plague of concussions that has appeared around the league, so this suspension sends another message that hits to the head won't be tolerated.
Regardless, the Penguins will have to deal without Engelland for the next five games, and have now lost five of their top six defenseman to injury or suspension.
Here's a link to the hit, you be the judge:
- Pittsburgh Penguins Defenseman Deryk Engelland Suspended 5 Games
- Reports Indicate Shawn Thornton to Be Suspended 15 Games . . . Complete Joke
- Pittsburgh Penguins Defenseman Paul Martin Doubtful for Tonight’s Matchup Against the Flyers
- Pittsburgh Penguins Defenseman Oprik Returns as Letang Sits
- The Play of Megna, Engelland is Making Dustin Jeffrey Sweat
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