San Jose Sharks’ defender Erik Karlsson has been suspended for two games for an illegal check to the head of Los Angeles Kings’ forward Austin Wagner. This is the first suspension of Karlsson’s 10-year NHL career.
San Jose’s Erik Karlsson has been suspended for two games for an illegal check to the head on Los Angeles’ Austin Wagner. https://t.co/Z0rvka0KQf
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) December 23, 2018
The veteran blueliner is widely considered the best defender on the planet and has made a legitimate claim for the title of best player on the planet regardless of position. Still, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety has made a point here regardless of Karlsson’s status.
Below is the video that the Department of Player Safety released to announce the suspension to Karlsson.
What’s interesting in this situation, however, is the specific mention of Karlsson needing to take a better angle of approach by the Department of Player Safety. As the video shows, Karlsson approaches the hit from what would appear to be the optimal angle. That said, the contact with the head is undeniable.
Karlsson was acquired by the Sharks in the offseason after a long and drawn out divorce between Karlsson and the Ottawa Senators. In 37 games this season, the 28-year-old defender has two goals and 26 points.
Over the course of an 82-game season, that projects to only four goals and 57 points. Respectable totals for a defender but a far cry from the double-digit goals and 70-plus points that we’ve become accustomed to seeing from Karlsson.
Included below is a transcript of the video that the NHL released for those who are unable to watch it themselves.
Full Transcript of the NHL’s Video
Saturday afternoon in San Jose, Sharks’ defenseman Erik Karlsson delivered a high hit to Kings’ forward Austin Wagner, making the head the main point of contact on a hit where such contact was avoidable.
As the video shows, several Kings and Sharks players battle for the puck in the corner. The Kings win the battle and break the puck up ice. Wagner cuts up center and takes a pass from a teammate. As he receives the pass, Karlsson steps up and delivers a high-hit, picking Wagner’s head and making it the main point of contact.
This is an illegal check to the head.
It is important to note that the head is the main point of contact on this hit. While we accept Karlsson’s assertions that he is attempting to deliver a full body hit and does make some contact with Wagner’s shoulder, the majority of the impact is delivered to Wagner’s head.
It is also important to note that the head contact on this play is avoidable. Wagner does not materially change the position of hiss head or bod yin a way that significantly contributes to the head being the main point of contact. If Karlsson wishes to deliver this hit, he must take a better angle of approach and hit through Wagner’s core, rather than picking his head.
To summarize: this is an illegal check to the head. Karlsson has been fined once in his 664 game NHL career.
The Department of Player Safety has suspended Erik Karlsson for two games.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.