David Backes has been suspended three games for his hit in last night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. The Boston Bruins forward collided with Frans Nielsen well after the puck had been distributed, making contact with his head. As the accompanying video explains:
At the moment contact is made, [David] Pastrnak has already gained possession of the puck for the Bruins and made his next move with the puck. In addition to the lateness of the check, what elevates this hit to merit supplementary discipline, is the significant head contact that occurs, and the force with which it is delivered.
Backes will be forced out of the lineup for three games including a home-and-home against the Chicago Blackhawks this weekend. Despite playing with a physical style, the 33-year old Bruins forward has never been fined or suspended by the Department of Player Safety.
This is just another example of the league trying to reduce the occurrence of head shots in the NHL, as Nielsen was forced from the game and is not expected to play for the next few Red Wings contests. Had the check only been late—or if no injury had occured—it may have not been such a harsh punishment for Backes. As it happens, the Bruins will be without him for the next few days and Backes will be out nearly $100K.