At first glance, I didn’t think the hit by Gabe Landeskog on Kirby Dach last night was all that bad, and certainly wouldn’t have thought it deserved a suspension. I’m not sure I still believe a suspension is warranted, but one is almost certainly coming for the Colorado Avalanche captain.
UPDATE: Two games for Landeskog, per DoPS. He’ll miss Saturday’s game against the Blues and Tuesday’s game in Washington.
And let’s all do this mental trick for a second, OK? Let’s pretend that was Nathan MacKinnon being hit into the boards by someone on the Blackhawks. Would we all be as sanguine about the situation as we are on the Landy hit? No, we wouldn’t. We’d want our pound of flesh from the NHL Department of Safety.
Here’s the hit:
Things happen SO fast in the NHL. That whole sequence took, what, one whole second? A second and a half? Anybody who plays or watches hockey knows what really went wrong on this whole thing. Landeskog was clearly lining up Dach for a hit as he had the puck and was about to chip it in to the Avs’ zone. Landeskog wanted to get to Dach before the puck could be chipped past the red line, which might have created an icing situation on the Blackhawks.
But then Dach slipped and fell to one knee. Landeskog was already committed to the hit, but by now Dach was down and in a much more vulnerable position. Landeskog went through with the hit anyway, and what happened, happened. Landeskog had a real burr in his saddle that whole shift, as you can see in the video. He had a couple of other hits prior to the one on Dach. In hindsight, it was a dangerous hit on Dach and a price will have to be paid.
Landeskog has been suspended three previous times in his career – the last time in 2017, for cross-checking Matthew Tkachuk in the neck. While he will not be considered a “repeat offender” by the league’s definition of such matters, it’s a red herring. They said the same thing about Nazem Kadri in the playoffs, but he still got slammed with an eight-game suspension.
The fact that Dach wasn’t badly hurt, the fact that it’s been four years for Landy since being cuffed and put in the slammer by DoPS and the fact that Dach’s slip contributed to the whole thing – I think Landeskog will get either two or three games. But we’ll see.
Also, the fact that Landeskog will just have a “hearing” and not an offer for an “in-person hearing” is significant. Here is from the NHL DoPS handbook, on such matters:
What is the difference between a telephone hearing and an in-person hearing?
If the Department of Player Safety determines that any Supplemental Discipline from an infraction will result in five games or less or a fine of more than $5,000, the hearing is conducted by phone.
If the infraction might require a suspension of six games or more, the offending Player is offered the opportunity to an in-person hearing. In this case, the Player remains suspended until the hearing takes place. If the Player waives his right to an in-person hearing, the hearing will be conducted by phone.