The decision has come down from the NHL Department of Player Safety and Ottawa Senators forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau will be suspended for his team’s next game. Pageau was assessed a minor penalty for boarding late in the second period of Wednesday night’s game at the Vancouver Canucks for a check on defenseman Ashton Sautner. However, the league felt that the altercation deserved further examination and held a hearing with Pageau this morning. The result is a one-game ban that will leave Pageau sidelined when the Senators travel to play the Calgary Flames tonight.
Player Safety opined that the hit in question was clearly made from behind and was a premeditated move by Pageau (video):
Sautner goes into the corner to collect the loose puck. As he tries to corral the puck while moving up the wall, Pageau is in pursuit from behind… Pageau delivers a hard hit into his back, driving him into the boards with force. This is boarding. It is important to note that from the moment Sautner collects the puck until contact is made, Pageau sees nothing but Sautner’s numbers. This is not a case in which a sudden move by Sautner just prior to contact turns a legal hit into an illegal one. Pageau has sufficient time to adjust his course and deliver a legal hit, minimize the force of the hit, or avoid the hit entirely. Instead he delivers this hit directly through Sautner’s back, driving him forcefully into the boards.
Pageau perhaps avoided further punishment due to the fact that he has no history of supplemental discipline, either by suspension or fine, as well as the fact that Sautner was able to return to the game in the third period. Nevertheless, his absence leaves Ottawa even more short-handed that usual. After trading away several core forwards ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline, Pageau was left as one of the de facto leaders of the Senators offense. Without him in the lineup, their minimal odds against the Flames are even worse. On top of that, it’s yet another missed game for Pageau, who was sidelined for the first half of the season with an off-season Achilles injury. His suspended game will be his 43rd absence in a season to forget.