The verdict is in for Blackhawks winger Brett Connolly. The Department of Player Safety announced (video link) that they have issued him a four-game suspension for his interference incident on Stars winger Tanner Kero on Saturday.
In the video, it was noted that Connolly tried to argue that it was more of a collision than an intentional body check. However, while the league acknowledged that it wasn’t a full-force collision, it was still a suspendable offense:
It is important to note that Kero was never in possession of the puck on this play and therefore is not eligible to be checked in any manner. Fully aware of Kero’s presence and, with a substantial amount of time to change his path, avoid the contact entirely, move toward the wall to seal off the boards, or do more to minimize the impact on Kero, Connolly braces himself for impact and skates directly through his opponent. And because Kero is never close to being in possession of the puck, he is in no way braced for contact, making him substantially more vulnerable.
In the ruling, the league also acknowledged Kero’s injury as a factor but also that Connolly had no prior history of any fines or suspensions. He will forfeit $70K in salary as a result of the suspension which, as always, goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.