The NHL’s Department of Player Safety this evening announced a three game suspension for Washington Capitals forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel as a result of an illegal check to the head of Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Callan Foote. As the video accompanying video explains:
“It is important to note that both elements of the illegal check to the head rule are satisfied on this play. First, the head is the main point of contact, as Aube-Kubel’s shoulder makes direct contact with Foote’s head, and it is the head the absorbs the majority of the force of the check. Second, the head contact on this play is avoidable. Aube-Kubel chooses an angel of approach that cuts across the front of Foote’s body, missing his core and picking his head. If Aube-Kubel wants to deliver this hit, he must stay low and choose an angle that leads to a full body check through the shoulder and core rather than one that makes the head the main point of contact.”
The hit in question happened partway through last night’s game between the Capitals and Lightning in Washington. As Foote received a pass and dumped it in near center ice, Aube-Kubel, who was skating parallel to Foote, cut to his right, skating across and in front of Foote, where he delivered the hit. Aube-Kubel was assessed a match penalty.
The three game suspension is interesting, considering Aube-Kubel’s prior discipline history consists of just two fines over 178 career games, this constituting a substantial jump up in punishment. Worth noting though, beyond the nature of the hit, is the fact that Foote was injured on the play.