The Toronto Maple Leafs were pummeled by the Boston Bruins in the first game of their playoff series, and could lose a key player for at least another game. Nazem Kadri has a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety after his hit on Tommy Wingels in the third period. Kadri slammed into a kneeling Wingles and made significant contact with his head, driving it into the boards. Wingels would leave the game and Kadri would be given a five-minute boarding penalty along with a game misconduct.
While Kadri defended the check after the game by saying had Wingels not fallen moments before contact, it wouldn’t have even been penalized, there is some evidence to the contrary. Kadri appears to leave his feet before contact, and be targeting Wingels from several strides across the ice. Though obviously no one can truly know if he had time to avoid contact after seeing the Bruins player drop to one knee, the onus is on the checking player to avoid contact to the head.
As we saw with Drew Doughty yesterday, the league will not hesitate to suspend a player during the playoffs. One thing to consider though is that Doughty was not penalized during his incident, while Kadri was taken out of the game and his five-minute major essentially ended any comeback hopes the Maple Leafs had. The league does seem to consider initial punishment in their rulings, though obviously Kadri’s may still warrant further discipline.