The surest sign that NHL hockey is back is that the Department of Player Safety is hard at work. After the league saw preseason open this weekend, two players are already expected to receive suspensions. Ottawa Senators forward Ridly Greig and Washington Capitals defenseman Dylan McIlrath will both receive hearings today for their plays over the weekend.
Greig’s incident happened partway through the second period of Ottawa’s game against the Winnipeg Jets, when he got his stick up in the face of Pierre-Luc Dubois. The result was a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct, ending the prospect’s night a little early. Dubois had been skating toward him to attempt a hit, when Greig extended the shaft of his stick forcefully up and into the Jets’ forward’s head. With the new focus on cross-checking, the league is obviously not going to look the other way this season.
The 19-year-old Greig has received several stick-related suspensions in the WHL. In fact, twice previously he has been suspended in the first game of the junior season. A first-round pick in 2020 he also scored in Ottawa’s game, showing just how effective he can be if he manages to play on the right side of the line.
McIlrath meanwhile was ejected from the Capitals’ game against the Boston Bruins at the start of the third period for a head shot on Steven Fogarty. The match penalty results in an automatic review from the DoPS and will certainly result in a suspension. Given he hasn’t played in the NHL since the 2019-20 season there’s no guarantee he ever truly “misses time” in the NHL, but this isn’t totally unexpected from McIlrath. The 6’5″ defenseman was a high draft pick because of his physical style, but has struggled to fill anything other than a sort of pseudo-enforcer role at the NHL level. In his 66-game career, he has five points and 121 penalty minutes.