By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
NHL Player Safety announced via Twitter on Thursday morning that Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist will have a hearing over his hit to the head of Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk during Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. Grzelcyk had to leave the game and go to a local hospital for tests and his status is uncertain for Game 3.
Late in the first period, Grzelcyk retrieved a puck in the corner and fired it around the back of the Bruins’ net. His momentum leaned his body in the opposite direction, putting his head in an awkward position. At that moment, Sundqvist drove his shoulder into Grzelcyk’s upper back, head, and neck area. Since Grzelcyk was hit from behind it counted as a boarding penalty.
It’s possible that Player Safety rules that contact with Grzelcyk’s head was avoidable, despite the defenseman’s posture on the play. The fact that it knocked Grzelcyk out of the game and ultimately sent him to a hospital will also be part of the consideration. (Update: Grzelcyk is officially day-to-day and in the concussion protocol.)
Sundqvist’s hearing indicates that he’s facing a suspension. The other four players publicly announced to have a hearing during the 2019 playoffs all received suspensions: Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, Sharks forward Joe Thornton, Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri, and Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy.
So recent precedent indicates that player safety is going to be partial to punishing Sundqvist for hitting Grzelcyk’s head. It’s not likely Sundqvist had any malicious intent on the hit, but the league is taking a hard line on head contact.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.