No hearing for Justin Abdelkader after questionable hit vs. Panthers

Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader, who delivered a hard check on Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers last night, will not be scheduled to meet with the league about the hit.

After the hit, Barkov appeared to be disoriented. He would end up missing the rest of the game. Combine that with the fact that Abdelkader was not penalized on the play, and Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant had this to say: ““I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way,” also adding that Abdelkader “left his feet a little and got [Barkov] in the jaw.”

“Obviously, not trying to hit him in the head or contact him that way,” Abdelkader told in a post-game interview. “I thought my feet were down and I followed through through his body. Sometimes those hits can change momentum. Hopefully’s he’s all right — I don’t think he returned, but hopefully he’s all right.”

NHL rule 48.1 explains the regulations on a check to the head:

“A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable is not permitted. In determining whether contact with an opponent’s head was avoidable, the circumstances of the hit including the following shall be considered:

(i) Whether the player attempted to hit squarely through the opponent’s body and the head was not ‘picked’ as a result of poor timing, poor angle of approach,

(ii) Whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position by assuming a posture that made head contact on an otherwise full body check unavoidable.

(iii) Whether the opponent materially changed the position of his body or head immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit in a way that significantly contributed to the head contact.”

Personally, I expected Abdelkader to receive at least a one-game suspension. Not because the hit was incredibly dirty, but because he has been suspended in the past (two games for charging during the 2013 playoffs), and Barkov was injured on the play.

We’ve certainly seen worse-looking hits that did not result in suspensions. Ryan White of the Philadelphia Flyers clocked Tomas Jurco with an elbow, which did not result in any supplemental discipline.

The Wings will face Florida again on March 19 in Sunrise, FL, and it will be interesting to see if the Panthers will use that opportunity to repay the favor.

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