This has to be a first for the NHL Department of Player Safety: Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin will have a Monday afternoon hearing for his leaping hit on Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek ... which will take place after a Monday morning hearing for Zbynek Michalek's head-shot on the Capitals' Matt Hendricks.
We covered the non-penalized Ovechkin hit on Sunday, and you can see that video here. As for Michalek's hit, which earned an elbowing minor, here it 'tis:
Ovechkin, who scored in the loss, is being asked to discuss his hit on Michalek at 4:05 into the second period. The Caps' forward appeared to have left his feet and made contact with Michalek's head as he hit the Pens' defenseman in the corner behind Pittsburgh's net.
Less than five minutes after Ovechkin's hit, Michalek -- who played more than 21 minutes Sunday -- received a minor elbowing penalty after making contact with Washington's Matt Hendricks behind the Penguins' net. Hendricks was able to get up and continue playing.
On that second hit, Hendricks gets low to play the puck, but Michalek still has to be more responsible in that spot. After the game, he felt Ovechkin deserved a penalty for targeting the head, but acknowledged his own transgression.
"Yeah, it's not the first time he hit me or hit somebody else like that and I guess some players are more protected than the others," said Michalek. "It should be an even field, next shift I took a penalty and it was a good call. I elbowed the guy and I just told the ref if he makes the call on me he should have made the call on him too. It's even worse play tonight and he didn't call. It should be even no matter who makes the hit."
Stephen Whyno of the Washington Times wonders if there are mitigating circumstances for the Ovechkin hit:
Replays showed that Ovechkin left his feet to deliver the hit, which made contact with Michalek's head, even though it was not the principal point of contact. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman also appeared to be slipping before the hit, and so Ovechkin did not look to be targeting Michalek's head.
So a player might be suspended in the morning, and then play the role of victim in another player's suspension in the afternoon. There's a screwball comedy script here begging to be written.
Meanwhile, why couldn't Matt Hendricks hit Ovechkin over the head with his stick just to complete this Circle of Shanabans?