December 02, 2011
On Thursday night, there were two incidents that had some fans asking about supplemental discipline from the NHL: John Carlson's(notes) flailing headshot on Matt Cooke(notes) at the end of the Washington Capitals' game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Florida Panthers forward Sean Bergenheim's(notes) contact with the head of Mike Richards(notes) of the Los Angeles Kings that may have concussed him.
Neither hit warranted a hearing from the NHL. We were curious why that was, and reached out to the Department of Player Safety. First, on the Carlson hit:
According to the Dept. of Player Safety, Carlson's focus at this point in a one-goal game is to move the puck up ice and join the play. He's not seeking out a hit on Cooke.
Before they make contact, Carlson cringes as he sees Cooke — according to the NHL's frame-by-frame analysis — and attempts to avoid contact. He flings his arm as he's "pretty much past him" and trying to force his way through.
The NHL examined this one closely. I think Carlson needs to be in control of his limbs here, and should have been whistled for a penalty, even that late in the game. A suspension? Based on what they witnessed on better video quality, the NHL said no. Perhaps it looks worse than it was; keep in mind Carlson has no history of this stuff.
UPDATE: Here's a full statement in from the league to the Post-Gazette.
As for the Bergenheim hit in the second period:
The Department of Player Safety sees this as cut-and-dry: It was a full body contact hit that involved contact with the head, perfectly legal under the current rules. We agree.
It gets dicey because Richards suffered an apparent concussion on the play, going on injured reserve on Friday. The NHL wasn't sure if he suffered that injury on the play or the subsequent scrum.
The Bergenheim didn't warrant anything from the NHL. The Penguins fans outraged over the Cooke play — like our boys at The Pensblog — are right that it should have been a penalty and should have earned a hearing. But a suspension? No.