Yesterday, Drew Doughty got into a bit of hot water. In perhaps the most physical game of the Los Angeles Kings’ season, Doughty committed an open-ice hit on William Carrier, who had ten hits of his own for the Vegas Golden Knights. However, Doughty’s hit made contact with Carrier’s head, and Carrier left the game.
Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty will have a hearing today for an illegal check to the head on Vegas’ William Carrier.— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) April 12, 2018
This is a classic example of a hit that looks innocent enough from other angles and didn’t get as much attention until the above slow motion replay. It wasn’t penalized during the game, but the NHL thought enough of it to give Doughty a call. And they should! There’s head contact and that should be enough to at least necessitate a hearing, even if nothing comes of it. No harm in considering it.
There would be harm to the Kings in losing Doughty, though, especially with Derek Forbort and possibly Jake Muzzin out of the lineup. So rather than trying to argue whether or not he should be suspended, we’re going to let you vote on that, then tell you a little something about playoff suspensions.
Should Drew Doughty be suspended for his hit on William Carrier yesterday?
This poll is closed
So. Playoff suspensions are unusual, as you might expect, but there were actually a flurry of punishments as recently as 2016. That year, five players were suspended, though only four of those took effect in the postseason and one (Andrew Shaw’s) was due to his use of a homophobic slur and not a check. Last season, though, only one player (Matt Calvert) was suspended, for a stick-breaking cross-check on Tom Kuhnhackl. Nick Ritchie also missed a playoff game, but it was from a suspension that extended from the regular season. Here are the last 15 players suspended for playoff games:
NHL Players Suspended from Postseason Play (Since 2014)
|4/14/2017||Matt Calvert||CBJ||1 game||Yes*||No|
|4/6/2017||Nick Ritchie||ANA||2 games||Yes||No|
|5/2/2016||Kris Letang||PIT||1 game||No||Yes|
|5/1/2016||Brooks Orpik||WSH||3 games||No||Yes|
|4/24/2016||Brayden Schenn||PHI||3 games**||No||Yes|
|4/19/2016||Andrew Shaw||CHI||1 game||No||Yes|
|4/18/2016||Pierre-Edouard Bellemare||PHI||1 game||Yes||No|
|4/27/2015||Niklas Kronwall||DET||1 game||No||Yes|
|5/27/2014||John Moore||NYR||2 games||Yes||Yes|
|5/22/2014||Brandon Prust||MTL||2 games||No||Yes|
|5/22/2014||Daniel Carcillo||NYR||10 games***||Yes||Yes|
|5/9/2014||Brandon Bollig||CHI||2 games||No||No|
|4/21/2014||Matt Cooke||MIN||7 games||No||Yes|
|4/19/2014||Brent Seabrook||CHI||3 games||Yes||No|
|4/10/2014||Mike Rupp||MIN||4 games||Yes||No|
The recent suspensions all have one of two elements that the Doughty hit does not have. Each punishable play was either (a) severe enough to warrant ejection/removal from the game or (b) committed by someone who’d been suspended before. The last to not fall into either category was Brandon Bollig’s, four years ago. (EDIT: Calvert’s was not technically an ejection, but since it occurred in the final minute of the third period, he did miss the rest of the game.)
You can also see that the “star defenseman” exemption is not a thing. At least, it wasn’t two years ago, for Kris Letang. We also remember Duncan Keith’s suspension for slashing Jeff Carter in the face. If Doughty escapes with no suspension for a borderline hit, it’ll be because (a) it was borderline and (b) he’s never been suspended before.