Landeskog Suspended Four Games

The Colorado Avalanche will be without their captain Gabriel Landeskog for the next four games after the 25-year-old was suspended for crosschecking Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk in the face Saturday. The altercation occurred during the first period of the game between the Flames and Avalanche in Colorado on Saturday, a game that ultimately saw the Flames come away with a win.

With the NHL suspending Radko Gudas for 10 games for a blatant slash to the back of the neck of Winnipeg Jets’ forward Matthew Perreault a week ago, it isn’t surprising to see the league coming down hard on Landeskog for his cross-check to Tkachuk’s face. If player safety is truly at the forefront of the discussion, then the league will need to continue making examples of players who put their peers in dangerous situations.

Below is the video that was released by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety:

Transcript of the NHL’s Decision:

The video describes the altercation and explains the reasoning for the suspension in great detail, noting the following:

Saturday night in Colorado, Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog received a penalty for cross-checking Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk at 16:07 of the first period.

As the video shows, Landeskog engages in a battle with Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames behind the net. The puck was still in contention at the side of the net while Tkachuk makes a play for it. Landeskog pushes Tkachuk to the area directly behind the net in an attempt to isolate him from the play and neutralize a scoring threat. Landeskog then crosschecks Tkachuk in the rubs pushing him into the back of the net. With Tkachuk now off balance and the puck taken from the goal area, Landeskog delivers a second more forceful blow, this time to the neck and head of Tkachuk.

This is cross-checking. While we accept the argument that this act was neither targeted or retaliatory in nature, Landeskog is in control of this battle and is responsible for his own stick. The position of Tkachuk’s head and body does not change in any significant manner prior to the blow and at no point is Tkachuk posturing to exchange cross checks, as often happens during a game. Instead, he is off balance and bent over when Landeskog recklessly and forcefully cross check his opponent in the head.

Landeskog and Tkachuk Having Career-Years

This suspension comes during what has been arguably Landeskog’s best season as an NHL player to date. With nine goals and 17 points in 22 games, Landeskog is projected to score over 30 goals for the first time in his career and record over 60 points for just the second time in his career (and the first time since the 2013-14 season). The Stockholm, Sweden-native will be eligible to return to the Avalanche’s lineup on Dec. 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Gabriel Landeskog
Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog has been suspended four games for a cross-check to the head of Matthew Tkachuk. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As for Matthew Tkachuk, the sophomore forward has scored four goals and 16 points this season after making his debut as an 18-year-old last season following the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, when he was taken sixth overall by the Flames. Those totals put him on pace to score roughly 14 goals and 59 points, both of which would figure to be career-highs for the 6-foot-2, 202-pound winger.

Similarly to Landeskog, Tkachuk plays with an edge and has made a name for himself as a talented forward who isn’t afraid to get physical when need be. Many have compared his game to his fathers, and with Brady Tkachuk, the younger brother of Matthew projected to be a first-round draft pick in 2018, the Tkachuk name should continue to live on for at least another generation.