In his first NHL season, Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen has had a lot of ‘NHL firsts.’ First game, first goal, first fight, and now, first suspension.
Virtanen was ejected from Tuesday night’s game against the San Jose Sharks following his late check on defenseman Roman Polak. The following morning, the forward had a hearing with the Department of Player Safety.
The result is a two game suspension for interference.
In the video, Patrick Burke refers frequently the lateness of the check. If you watch Virtanen, he is looking at Polak the whole way. Right after the defenseman releases the puck, Virtanen closes the gap and hits Polak. This is well outside the “allowable” time frame to check a player once he’s released the puck.
Burke notes the ‘predatory nature’ of Virtanen’s check. At no point did Virtanen make an attempt to avoid or minimize contact with the other player.
Polak’s head whips violently as a result of the contact. He stayed on the ice for a few minutes while talking with the trainer before skating off on his own. According to his shift chart, he missed about 5 minutes of actual game play before returning to finish the game.
Virtanen forfeits $9,614.70 in salary for missing two of the Canucks final six games of the season. Incidentally, the next game for Vancouver is the second of a home-and-home with the Sharks.
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