When Alex Burrows was invited to a in-person hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety, it became known that the Ottawa Senators forward could be suspended more than five games. While the Senators squared off with the New Jersey Devils last night, Burrows got tangled up with Taylor Hall and seemed to intentionally and maliciously knee Hall in the head repeatedly. Player Safety saw the play the same way and tonight handed down a ten-game suspension for Burrows. Player Safety summed up the altercation as follows:
“In short, for the sole purpose of retribution, Burrows drags an unwilling opponent to the ice, punches him several times, then uses his knee pad to violently inflict more punishment on his opponent’s head… This is a dangerous and unjustifiable attack that runs the risk of severe injury and such plays will not be tolerated by the Department of Player Safety.”
This ten-game ban, more than 12% of the 82-game season and exactly one third of Ottawa’s remaining games, is the longest suspension of the season in the NHL. It’s no surprise that Burrows is the culprit, as the veteran forward has one of the more tarnished reputations in the league when it comes to dirty play. (Remember he bit Patrice Bergeron in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final). In fact, Burrows has already been fined $5,000 earlier this season for roughing, though that’s nothing compared to the $135,000 he is now set to lose.
Burrows does have the right to appeal the suspension, first to commissioner Gary Bettman and then to a neutral arbitrator, but such challenges are rare in the NHL and even more so is unlikely to be successful, given the clear graphic nature of the offense. Burrows will have to sit for ten game, unable to return to the Ottawa lineup until March. For the bottom-dwelling Senators, Burrow’s absence won’t mean the difference between making the playoffs or not. However, it does make last year’s trade, in which the Sens gave up promising prospect Jonathan Dahlen, that much harder to swallow.