Los Angeles Kings fans held their collective breaths last night as stud defenseman Drew Doughty had to be helped off the ice following a knee injury. The incident unfolded late in the second period of the Kings’ match-up with the Dallas Stars on Friday. New Stars defenseman Jani Hakanpaa delivered a knee-to-knee hit on Doughty as he entered the offensive zone, resulting in immediate and visible pain for the decorated veteran (video). Doughty did not return to the game, but neither did Hakanpaa, who was assessed a five-minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct. L.A. would score on the resulting power play but eventually lost in overtime.
It seems that the league has decided that Hakanpaa has already served his due punishment for the hit in question. Matthew DeFranks of The Dallas Morning News reports that Hakanpaa will not face any supplemental league discipline for the hit. The NHL Department of Player Safety explained to DeFranks that their analysis was that Hakanpaa did not extend his knee and maintained his body position throughout the hit. The video backs up this claim, although it does seem as if the knee-to-knee contact was the targeted approach. While Player Safety is not tasked with making any supplemental discipline equitable with the talent level or injury length of the victim of a play, it is a tough pill to swallow for Kings’ fans who lost the far superior defenseman and the game on Friday night.
Fortunately, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reports that the early results on Doughty are positive. The team believes that he has avoided any significant injury and may only have a minor knee sprain. They are still waiting on a final diagnosis, but this comes as a relief given the anguish displayed by the tough veteran on the ice following the hit. Seravalli notes that not only Los Angeles but also Team Canada will be happy that Doughty will not miss an extended period of time in this Olympic year.