The NHL Department of Player Safety announced Saturday night that they suspended Arizona Coyotes forward Nick Ritchie for one game for slashing Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk during last night’s game.
The incident occurred in the waning seconds of the first period, with the Ducks already commanding a 3-0 lead in the contest. Ritchie, who had pulled away from Shattenkirk after a clean check into the boards, raised his stick and, in the eyes of Player Safety, purposefully whacked the side of Shattenkirk’s helmet/face with his stick.
NHL DoPS’ rationale for the decision is as follows:
It is important to note that this is not a reckless or careless use of the stick, rather, this is a controlled and purposeful slash directed toward the head of an opponent that hits its intended target. And while the slash was delivered without substantial force, it is only because of the lack of force that this play is not met with more severe discipline.
Additionally, Ritchie has already been disciplined by DoPS four separate times during his seven-year, 400-game career, including one suspension and three fines.
Despite a tough start to 2021-22 after signing this offseason with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ritchie has eight goals and two assists for 10 points in 17 games since donning a Coyotes uniform for the first time. He’s one of their better offensive contributors at the moment, leaving a hole in the lineup, albeit just for one game.