I’ll predict five games. Five games is my prediction for the forthcoming suspension to Avalanche center Nazem Kadri for his hit to the head of Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in the third period of Game 2 last night.
I won’t be shocked if it’s more, though. Technically, Kadri is not a repeat offender with the NHL right now, because his last suspension happened more than 18 months ago. But past incidents can and still are used against players, we all know that. I mean, let’s get real. He’s gonna get the book thrown at him. This will be his sixth suspension as a player – three times in a regular season with Toronto and twice more in the playoffs – in 2018 and 2019 – as a Maple Leaf, both times against Boston. The first playoff suspension was three games and the second was for the rest of the first round for a Game 2 hit against Jake DeBrusk.
Kadri has been offered an in-person hearing from the NHL for the hit, which would be done by Zoom – not in person in New York, like in normal, non-pandemic times. From the NHL: “A player is offered an in-person hearing if the infraction might require a suspension of six games or more. In this case, Kadri is suspended until the hearing takes place. If Kadri waives his right to an in-person hearing, the hearing will be conducted by phone.”
About the hit: This was not some premeditated, lining-up-a-guy-from-100-feet-away, predatory hit. Faulk came across the middle, had his head down a little, and Kadri went to hit him. He didn’t leap off his feet – his left skate is planted firmly on the ice – and he didn’t throw some wild elbow. He looked to me to just want to lay a good shoulder hit to the body of Faulk, but got him on the head instead.
Whether Kadri meant to do that or not doesn’t matter really. It happened, and there will be a price to pay for it in terms of lost games.
The NHL’s method of determining suspensions completely baffles everybody. This immediately resulted in a furor because Faulk was laid out on the ice and because of who Kadri is.
Yet, the hit by Vegas forward Keegan Kolesar against Avs defenseman Bo Byram earlier this season was worse, in my opinion, than what Kadri did. Here’s a guy who literally leaped off his skates to hit Byram up high along the boards, which gave Byram a concussion that lasted weeks, and yet we didn’t hear a peep from the NHL Department of Player Safety about that.
By the way, the Blues are no stranger to having guys suspended for hits to the head. One of their players, in fact, was suspended two games this season for this hit to the head of Devon Toews.
Kadri will be suspended, and it’s warranted. He’s got to be smarter than that, and this now could fire up the Blues, give them a big rallying cry and it could expose Avs players to dirty, retaliatory hits in Game 3 or beyond.
But it’s also the game of hockey, a fast-paced, contact sport. This stuff happens sometimes and will always happen. Doesn’t make it right, but it’s real life.