It’s not often that you see a goaltender receive a suspension for interference, but that’s exactly what Buffalo Sabres netminder Aaron Dell has received today. The Department of Player Safety has suspended Dell three games for his hit on Ottawa Senators forward Drake Batherson last night. As the accompanying video explains:
It is important to note that this is a body check, not merely a collision. Dell is looking up ice and is aware of the path that Batherson is taking in order to avoid contact with Dell. Dell is the player that initiates the contact on this play. This is also not a mere pick play or a last second brace for impact in which a player impedes the path of his opponent without substantial force. Dell takes an active step into Batherson, shifting his weight and delivering a hit to an unsuspecting player that causes a dangerous fall into the boards.
Finally, it is also important to note that Batherson does not have the puck and is therefore not eligible to be checked on this play in any manner.
Unfortunately, Batherson suffered a serious ankle injury and is expected to be out long-term. That will cost him a chance to continue his strong season, and an opportunity to play in his first All-Star Game as Ottawa’s representative. He’ll be replaced by Brady Tkachuk at the event.
Dell meanwhile was not issued a penalty by the on-ice officials and did not have a history of supplementary discipline, despite previous instances of a similar nature. This suspension will be on his record though and taken into account for any future punishment from the DoPS.
The Sabres are now down to a single healthy goaltender, though Craig Anderson is nearing a return from injury and could be ready to go this weekend. Still, it will likely be Michael Houser in net for the team when they take on the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night.