The Tampa Bay Lightning may lose one of their talented forwards for at least a game, as Yanni Gourde is scheduled to have a hearing with the Department of Player Safety today. Gourde made clear head contact with Carolina Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal last night, and received a match penalty for it. Staal returned to the game.
Gourde was guaranteed a hearing with the league as a match penalty carries with it an indefinite automatic suspension, and it’s easy to see why he was assessed the penalty. Though there may be some leniency given due to the fact that Staal was being hauled down from behind and may have not been in the position Gourde expected, but there is clear, hard contact with his head and not really any other part of his body.
The diminutive Gourde is known for his offense but is also more than willing to engage physically, and has recorded 81 hits in 75 games this season. He has never been suspended in his short career however, which also may keep his penalty down. Regardless, the Lightning almost have nothing to play for down the stretch as they have already locked up the Presidents Trophy and will be the first seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Losing Gourde for a few games will only affect his pocketbook and future disciplinary action.