Toronto Maple Leafs’ forward Nazem Kadri has been suspended three games by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety following his illegal and forceful hit to the head of Boston Bruins’ forward Tommy Wingels in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
Kadri was assessed a five-minute major penalty for the charging and was also handed a game misconduct and ejected from the game as a result. This incident occurred in the third period of the Maple Leafs 5-1 loss to the Bruins. It also came just a few minutes after Kadri’s previous boarding penalty had expired. Kadri has also previously gotten away with a blatant knee-on-knee hit to Bruins’ forward Rick Nash earlier in the same period.
The NHL’s decision can be seen in the following video:
Transcript of the NHL’s Video
Thursday night in Boston, Maple Leafs’ forward Nazem Kadri was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for this hit on Bruins’ forward Tommy Wingels.
As the video shows, late in the third period of a 4-1 game, Wingels is backchecking through center as Leafs’ forward Mitch Marner enters the Boston zone. Marner is defended by Bruins’ defenseman Zdeno Chara and pivots back up the wall to protect the puck. As he pivots, Wingels steps down and makes contact with Marner. Kadri sees this hit and immediately accelerates towards Wingels who is facing the boards. Wingels fall to the ice as he chips the puck up the wall.
Kadri sees Wingels has falling and with sufficient time to adjust his course or minimize the force, instead drives recklessly into the defenseless Wingels, causing his head to dangerously impact the boards.
This is boarding.
It is important to note that Kadri is in control of this hit at all times. While Wingels falling may have been unanticipated, Kadri has enough time to recognize Wingels is on his knees and in a defenseless position before committing to teh hit. Instead of avoiding or minimizing this hit, Kadri drives his hip into Wingels upper body with enough force to cause Wingels to collide dangerously with the boards, and cause himself to lift off the ice upon impact.
While we acknowledge that Wingels makes contact wiht Marner moments before, players are never permitted to retaliaate in an illegal fashion. This is a forceful and illegal hit delivered on a defenseless opponent for the purpose of retribution and message-sending and such plays will not be tolerated.
To summarize – this is boarding. Kadri has been suspended three times previously in his 488 game NHL career. The Department of Player Safety has suspended Nazem Kadri for three playoff games.
This sequence of events will undoubtedly serve as a major swing in the series as the Maple Leafs are down 1-0 in their series against the Bruins and will now also be down one of their most productive forwards. For the Bruins, the absence of Wingels impacts their gameplan as well given the fact that forward Riley Nash, is still considered doubtful to return for the second game of the series.
If Nash and Wingels are both unable to dress in Game 2, the Bruins will likely turn to recently-signed Olympian Ryan Donato to take a spot in the lineup and make his postseason debut.