We have all been in school and known someone who sits quietly in class and never does anything wrong. Then, one day, that quiet student decides to try something funny and surprisingly gets in a lot of trouble. On Wednesday night, David Pastrnak became that quiet student who randomly gets disciplined.
It is extremely rare for Pastrnak to attempt to deliver a big hit or any hit for that matter, but he tried it against Rangers’ defenseman Dan Girardi. As a result of the contact, Pastrnak has been suspended for two games by the NHL Department of Player Safety.
David Pastrnak has been suspended two games for an illegal check to the head on NY Rangers’ Dan Girardi, as announced by @NHLPlayerSafety.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) October 28, 2016
Praise for Player Safety
One thing the NHL should be praised for is their detailed video explanations of suspensions. These videos let us know their thought process and exact reasoning for suspending a player. It would be easy for the NHL to leave fans and teams in the dark, but they make sure to explain themselves well.
Whether you agree with them or not is a different story. In this particular case, many Bruins supporters appear to be upset with the decision to suspend Pastrnak. Joe Haggerty of Comcast-New England reported that the Bruins are not particularly happy either.
In this video, Player Safety explains that Pastrnak was suspended due to an illegal check to the head. The voice-over for the video notes that the head of Girardi was the primary point of contact and that Pastrnak should have remained low when delivering the check. The department also felt the contact to the head was avoidable because Pastrnak, “unnecessarily extends up and into the head of Girardi.”
Girardi first appeared in the NHL during the 2006-07 season for the New York Rangers. He is now in his 11th NHL season and has played in 730 games. As a veteran defenseman, it is surprising that he attempted to catch a floating puck in the neutral zone with an attack coming.
With his experience, he had to know that he was setting himself up for major body contact. I am not blaming Girardi for the hit Pastrnak delivered, but he did put himself in a rather vulnerable position. It is not a play you expect to see from a veteran player like him.
Dirty or Not?
The reason many people are upset in Boston is because they do not view the hit as being dirty. Initially, the hit appeared to be hard, yet clean. However, when the play is slowed down it seems Pastrnak did get a piece of Girardi’s chin on the follow through.
The contact to Girardi’s chin led to the hit being labeled as an illegal check to the head. Pastrnak could have lowered his shoulder more, but the play is certainly not dirty. There is no place in the NHL for deliberate head shots, but this is not one of those situations.
Message Sent from the NHL
This particular suspension has the look of being a warning to Pastrnak and the rest of the league. The message appears to be that if you want to make a hard check, you must keep your shoulder low and the contact to the chest of an opposing player.
It is no secret that the NHL has been cracking down on checks that involve contact to the head. By suspending Pastrnak, the league is hoping that players are more careful when delivering heavy blows.
While the suspension has been a surprise to some, it is understandable that the NHL is trying to stop these hits. Unfortunately, Pastrnak is being used as an early season example to get this message across.
Anthony Pagliarulo is a Boston Bruins contributor for The Hockey Writers. He is a Massachusetts native and a Worcester State University alumni. You can follow Anthony on Twitter @APags87.