Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri has been suspended during the Stanley Cup playoffs for the second straight year.
This time it will cost him at least the rest of the Leafs’ first-round series against the Boston Bruins.
Kadri was handed a ban for the remainder of the opening series for his cross-check on Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk in the third period of Toronto’s Game 2 loss Saturday.
DeBrusk had just thrown a questionable hit on Leafs veteran Patrick Marleau, and Kadri decided to retaliate with a cross-check to DeBrusk’s head.
The 28-year-old Kadri was immediately ejected from the game and assessed a five-minute major on the play. Boston scored on the ensuing power play, which put the finishing touches on a 4-1 victory to even the series as it shifts back to Toronto.
The NHL Department of Player Safety explained the punishment in a video:
“This is not a hockey play. Instead, this is a player retaliating against an opponent by using his stick as a weapon to make forceful and direct head contact...
While we understand that Kadri took offence to Debrusk’s hit against Marleau, players are simply not permitted to flagrantly violate league playing rules because they feel that retribution is justified...
It is also important to note that Kadri has an extensive disciplinary track record that must be considered when issuing supplemental discipline...
Not only is Kadri considered a repeat offender under the the terms of the CBA - having been suspended 3 playoff games exactly one year ago - but Kadri has also been previously suspended for a similar retaliatory crosscheck to the head of an opponent.”
This marks the fifth time Kadri has been suspended over his career, and comes almost exactly one year after he missed three games of last season’s playoff series against the same Bruins for an illegal hit on Tommy Wingels.
Leafs head coach Mike Babcock will now need to get creative as he searches for Kadri’s replacement on Toronto’s third line.
Mike Babcock, a day later, on Nazem Kadri's cross-check: "Any time you cross the line ... you have a chance to let someone else make decisions on whether you play or not. The way I look at it today is we can’t worry about that now. Just got to move on.”
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 14, 2019
Kadri scored 16 goals and added 28 assists in 73 regular-season games for the Leafs in 2018-19. He tallied Toronto’s lone goal in Game 2 before he received his game misconduct.
Game 3 takes place at Scotiabank Arena at 7:00 p.m. ET.
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