On Tuesday, Kurtis MacDermid delivered a check to Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov, which sent Provorov to the ice and MacDermid into the Flyers’ bench. While the principle point of contact wasn’t Provorov’s head, there was contact there, and MacDermid very swiftly received a call from the NHL Player Safety Department.
After the hearing today, Player Safety announced that MacDermid has been suspended for two games, on the basis that the head contact was avoidable. MacDermid, who is regularly in and out of the Kings lineup, will miss the next two games: Saturday against the Nashville Predators and Monday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Player Safety’s main argument is that head contact was avoidable. MacDermid could have chosen to approach the hit in a way that made main contact with the core of Provorov’s body. Provorov did not change his upper body or head positioning at any point, so no argument can be made that he put himself in a more vulnerable position.
The Player Safety department did take into consideration the fact that the play wasn’t intentional or targeted, as well as the fact that MacDermid has not been fined or suspended before at the NHL level. (He has previously been suspended in the AHL and OHL.)
Per the Player Safety explanation video:
“...Provorov carries the puck out of his own zone with a Kings forechecker pursuing and MacDermid maintaining his gap in the neutral zone. Provorov is forced down the wall and, losing time and space, moves across the red line to dump the puck in.
As he does so, MacDermid steps up from the faceoff dot and crosses into Provorov’s lane, coming across the front of Provorov’s body and ultimately ending up in the Philadelphia bench.
This is a forceful check that makes the head the main point of contact on a hit where such head contact was avoidable. This is an illegal check to the head.
It is important to note that the illegal check to the head rule looks only at the main point of contact of a hit, not the first point of contact. On this hit, it is clear to us that while MacDermid may make glancing contact with Provorov’s shoulder, Provorov’s head absorbs the brunt of the impact and is therefore the main point of contact.
It is also important to note that the head contact on this play is avoidable. Rule 48 does provide situations where head contact on a body check may be excused. None of these exemptions apply on this hit.
While Provorov does chip the puck in as MacDermid approaches, he does not materially change the position of his head or body in a way that contributes to the head being the main point of contact.
[...] While we acknowledge MacDermid’s argument that he does not intentionally pick the head as a target, he mistimes this hit and takes an angle of approach that cuts along the front of Provorov’s body rather than through Provorov’s core.
If MacDermid wants to deliver this hit, he must take an angle of approach that hits squarely through Provorov’s core rather than one that picks the head as a result of poor timing and a poor angle of approach.”