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Alex Ovechkin suspended 3 games for ‘launching’ himself into Pens’ Michalek

Sean Leahy
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Not long after news trickled out that Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek would not be fined or suspended for his hit on Matt Hendricks of the Washington Capitals, the Department of Player Safety and Brendan Shanahan (Happy 43rd Birthday, Shanny) did have reason to produce a suspension video before quitting time.

Alex Ovechkin was given a three-game sentence for his charge on Michalek in Sunday's game against the Penguins.

Here's the suspension explanation:

From the NHL

Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has been suspended for three games without pay for a charging incident in which he launched himself to hit Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek during NHL Game #714 in Pittsburgh on Sunday, Jan. 22, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and based on his average annual salary, Ovechkin will forfeit $154,677.75. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

The incident occurred at 4:05 of the second period. No penalty was assessed on the play.

One key note in Shanahan's explanation:

"The moment Ovechkin launches himself into the air prior to the hit he becomes responsible for any contact to the head."

With every debatable hit this season, the principle point of contact is a key factor in whether or not a Shanaban is dished out. As this situation has shown, if a player leaves his feet while delivering a check, it doesn't matter if the head is the first or last thing that is contacted. Keep your skates on the ice and you're fine. Leave 'em and you'll be getting a phone call.

In the eyes of the NHL, Ovechkin wasn't considered a "repeat offender" due to his not having been disciplined in the last 18 months, but as Shanahan noted, he's been fined twice and suspended twice in his career. Just because you've been clean doesn't necessarily help one get off.

Finally, as Wysh noted Monday morning, even though Ovechkin's suspension takes him through the All-Star break, he's still eligible to attend the festivities in Ottawa. That is, if he doesn't decide to back out and spend the next week somewhere sunny and warm.

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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