A hit in last night’s Columbus Blue Jackets-Colorado Avalanche game resulted in an early end to the night for two players, but that won’t be the end of the story for either one. Jackets captain Nick Foligno delivered an elbow to the head of Avs forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, forcing him from the game. Foligno received a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct, but that may have just been the beginning of his trouble. The NHL Department of Player Safety has announced that Foligno will have a hearing on Monday to determine further supplemental discipline for the hit.
The hit in question (video) occurred late in the second period of Colorado’s 4-2 win on Friday night. Foligno appears to change direction in the neutral zone and purposefully aim his momentum upward for a hit on Bellemare. His elbow clips Bellemare in the face, the first dangerous point of contact, who then falls and hits the ice hard, with a second and potentially more harmful head contact coming from whiplash against the ice. Bellemare was dazed by the hit and helped off the ice. He did not return and a concussion is a very real possibility for the hard-working veteran.
While Foligno expressed remorse for the hit after the game, per The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline, his words come off more as excuse than regret and the nature of the hit betrays his explanation altogether. What appears to be a completely intentional hit by Foligno, leaving his feet and leading with the elbow, is totally out of character for the respected captain. That likely won’t figure into Player Safety’s analysis though, in what is seemingly a cut-and-dry situation. Foligno is a first-time offender and his hearing is over the phone, limiting it in length to a maximum five games, but this is certainly a multi-game suspension.
The timing could not be worse for either team when it comes to player absences. Columbus is mired in a losing streak which could easily be extended through the length of their captain’s suspension. Meanwhile, Colorado has been dealing with struggles of their own which largely have been tied to existing injuries up front and can ill-afford another lasting absence from a regular forward.