Tyler Ennis could face suspension for linesman stick whack (Video)

Down by a goal and with the clock nearly at triple zeroes in the third period on Friday night, Buffalo Sabres winger Tyler Ennis received a pass while standing inside the Edmonton Oilers zone. Which is a bit offside.

Linesman Derek Nansen whistled the play dead as the game ended, with the Oilers winning, 3-2. Ennis skated back and gave the linesman a little “good job, good effort” stick-tap while saying something rather poetic to him.

Or as its known clinically: Making illegal contact with, and abuse of, an official. Which resulted in a game misconduct for Ennis, even though the game was over.

So what kind of vacation, if any, can Ennis expect for these actions from the NHL's Hockey Operations department?

This infraction falls under one of three categories for abuse of officials, likely one of these two:

40.3 Automatic Suspension – Category II - Any player who deliberately applies physical force to an official in any manner (excluding actions as set out in Category I), which physical force is applied without intent to injure, or who spits on an official,shall be automatically suspended for not less than ten (10) games.

40.4 Automatic Suspension – Category III - Any player who, by his actions, physically demeans an official or physically threatens an official by (but not limited to) throwing a stick or any other piece of equipment or object at or in the general direction of an official, shooting the puck at or in the general direction of an official, spitting at or in the general direction of an official, or who deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation shall be suspended for not less than three (3) games.

In theory, this could be a 10-gamer. Not only did he make contact with an official, but the way that Nansen reacted it appeared Ennis might have gotten him on the left hand.

The last player to get dinged for abuse of officials was Dan Carcillo, who was given 10 games for “deliberately applying physical force to an official”; it was later revised and reduced by Gary Bettman to six games.

The officials will file their game report with the NHL, and away we go. The only question is whether the NHL will decide suspending Ennis would be a lesser punishment than forcing him to continue playing for the Sabres.

UPDATE: Ennis has yet to hear from the league: