Right after Cody Eakin was tossed from Thursday’s game for slamming into Henrik Lundqvist’s head pretty much everyone knew the Dallas Stars forward would be suspended. It was just a matter of the Department of Player Safety handing down their ruling.
On Friday afternoon, Player Safety announced Eakin will miss the next four games. He’ll forfeit $85,555.56 total salary for charging.
Eakin broke Rule 42.1 – Charging:
The last paragraph is important for those who believe that Lundqvist should be able to be hit for traveling outside his crease.
If it was incidental contact and/or Eakin made every effort to get out of the way then there wouldn’t be as much of an issue. DoPS said as much in the video, stating:
“The contact Eakin makes with Lundqvist is not incidental; rather it is a forceful blow delivered by Eakin’s shoulder to Lundqvist.
“Also, in [the Department of Player Safety’s] opinion, Eakin does not make a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.
“As the forechecker, the route taken by Eakin is entirely up to him. He takes an angle of approach that will require some effort on his part to avoid contact with the goaltender. Then, rather than making such an effort to lean, jump around, or otherwise avoid or minimize the force of the hit, Eakin loads up, braces for contact, and delivers an intentional and forceful hit to Lundqvist, making substantial contact with the goaltenders head.”
Lundqvist left the ice for just over five minutes of game play. He returned to complete the game.
In his post-game scrum, New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault did not mince words on what he thought of the hit.
“The league better do something about that hit,” Alain Vigneault said. “It’s everything that you want to take away from the game: Hit to the head, forward motion — and it’s a goaltender on top. If that happens in the playoffs and your goaltender’s got to go out of the net, they better do something about that.”
The NHL was already looking into the hit before Vigneault’s comments.
One thing the coach didn’t go in to is his team’s lack of response to Lundqvist’s pummeling. Usually when a franchise player takes a nasty hit his teammates will immediately go after the perpetrator. The Rangers didn’t do that. Some say it’s because they were on the power play at the time (meaning no fighters on the ice), and/or didn’t want to get an extra minor tacked on. Others raise an eyebrow at hidden reasons. It’s all speculation and some food for thought.
If you’re still fuzzy on how the DoPS comes to their decisions, take a listen to Puck Soup with Patrick Burke and Damian Echevarrieta from the department. They go into a lot of smaller details that tend to get overlooked when discussing suspensions.