Chicago Blackhawks Niklas Hjalmarsson will have a phone hearing Monday, per the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. Hjalmarsson hit St. Louis Blues forward Ty Rattie in open ice in the final minutes of the Blackhawks’ 4-0 win last night. It appeared that Hjalmarsson made contact with Rattie’s head. The Swedish defenseman received a match penalty—kicking him out of the game and suspending him for Chicago’s next preseason game.
A phone hearing means that Hjalmarsson will not get more than five games. A preseason suspension would carry over to the regular season, so Chicago faces the prospect of starting the season without one of its better defensemen. The NHL is stricter when it comes to hits to the head, so look for Hjalmarrson to get at least four games—the relative unimportance of preseason games coupled with the NHL’s new mandate on head safety will influence its decision.
This is the second preseason disciplinary hearing. On September 29th the NHL suspended Montreal Canadiens (and former Chicago Blackhawk) forward Andrew Shaw for three games following a dangerous boarding against the Washington Capitals.