Make no mistake about it, the NHL’s on-ice officials have had a tough 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. After the events from the past three weeks, I expect that the NHL will adopt a video review for major penalties like Division I college hockey has in the offseason. If they don’t, anything after that is self-inflicted.
First, we’re all aware of the game seven debacle between the Las Vegas Golden Knight’s and the San Jose Sharks. So, we’re not going to relitigate that here.
Fast forward to Monday night, game six, Boston and Columbus. Late in the second period, Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy lights up Columbus Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson with significant contact to the head. An ill-advised hit at this point in the game.
After huddling at the penalty box, NHL officials Steve Kozari and Kelly Sutherland assessed McAvoy a two-minute minor penalty for an illegal check to the head. Boston catches a major break. A five-minute major could’ve been a major game-changing event.
Post-hit, Anderson went down the tunnel, but he did return for the third period.
You can read the NHL rule book and decide for yourself.
Rule 48 – Illegal Check to the Head
48.1 Illegal Check to the Head – A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable is not permitted. In determining whether contact with an opponent’s head was avoidable, the circumstances of the hit including the following shall be considered:
(i) Whether the player attempted to hit squarely through the opponent’s body and the head was not “picked” as a result of poor timing, poor angle of approach, or unnecessary extension of the body upward or outward
(ii) Whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position by assuming a posture that made head contact on an otherwise full body check unavoidable.
(iii) Whether the opponent materially changed the position of his body
or head immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit in a way that significantly contributed to the head contact.
48.2 Minor Penalty – For violation of this rule, a minor penalty shall be assessed.
48.3 Major Penalty – There is no provision for a major penalty for this rule.
48.4 Game Misconduct Penalty – There is no provision for a game misconduct for this rule.
48.5 Match Penalty – The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head. If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion.
In the post-game handshake line, there were no shenanigans. Looks like both players have moved on.
If I had to guess, there’s a good chance that Charlie McAvoy will be getting a call from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. However, it’s the NHL, so who knows?
Today, McAvoy has a hearing with the Department of Players Safety. With that said, McAvoy has never been suspended by the NHL.