The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has suspended Brendan Lemieux for two Stanley Cup Qualifier games. This decision came Monday for an incident that occurred on March 11 in a game between the New York Rangers and the Colorado Avalanche.
Avalanche forward Joonas Donskoi would take a slot-shot off-the-rush late in the third-period of a close game. Well after the shot was delivered, Lemieux would deliver a hit on an unsuspecting Donskoi who would unfortunately be injured on this play.
It’s interesting that the NHL took this much time to determine any sort of supplemental discipline for Lemieux, but it also makes sense given the fact that the league didn’t know whether or not the 2019-20 regular season would resume or how the playoff structure would work until fairly recently.
As a result, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety had to wait to properly determine the punishment suitable for this incident in a way that would make sense.
Though Lemieux is unable to participate in the Rangers’ first two Qualifier games, he’ll still be eligible to play in the Rangers’ exhibition game on July 29. This makes sense given how the NHL typically handles suspensions like this.
Below is the video released by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. Following the video will be a transcript of the video for those unable to watch.
Transcript of NHL Department of Player Safety’s Video
On Wednesday, March 11 in Colorado, Rangers’ forward Brendan Lemieux was assessed a minor penalty for a late, high hit on Avalanche forward Joonas Donskoi.
As the video shows, Donskoi enters the Rangers’ zone on the rush as Lemieux back-checks through center. Donskoi fights off a Rangers’ defender and regains control of the puck before releasing a quick shot on goal. Well after the puck is gone, Lemieux leans hard into Donskoi’s path, making substantial contact with Donskoi’s head and causing an injury.
This is interference.
It is important to note that we do not view this play as a mere collision. Lemieux visibly shifts his weight to move himself into Donskoi’s path, then braces for contact in a way that ensures Donskoi absorbs the brunt of the impact. It is also important to note that Lemieux initiates this check well after Donskoi released the shot and contact is made well outside of the window where a check may be legally finished.
Donskoi has no reason to expect to be hit this long after the puck is gone, making him particularly vulnerable to contact.
What causes this hit to rise to the level of supplemental discipline is the lateness of the hit, the substantial head contact and the force of the impact.
To summarize, this is interference. Donskoi suffered an injury on the play. Lemieux is classified as a repeat offender under the terms of the CBA. The Department of Player of Safety has suspended Brendan Lemieux for two Stanley Cup Qualifier games.