The National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety clearly did not appreciate the way Calgary Flames forward Milan Lucic treated one of the league's young rookies on Saturday night and now Lucic and the Flames will pay a significant cost as a result.
According to an official announcement from Player Safety the league has decided to suspended the Flames veteran for 2 games after he delivered a rather vicious looking sucker punch to Columbus Blue Jackets forward Kole Sherwood during a matchup between the Flames and Jackets. You would be hard pressed to argue that Sherwood did a great deal to warrant such a reaction from Lucic and it seems clear that the league viewed the play in much the same manner that I did.
Although the league has officially suspended Lucic for "roughing" Sherwood here it is clear that the initial sucker punch to the head of Sherwood is what provoked such a strong reaction from the NHL. During the opening minutes of the games second period Sherwood was driving towards the net and fired a shot on Flames goaltender David Rittich who promptly shut the door. Although Rittich made the initial save on the play Sherwood gave the Flames goaltender an extra poke after the save and it seems likely that it was this poke that provoked such a visceral reaction out of Lucic. Although protecting your goaltender is certainly understandable, and even admirable, there is little doubt that the level of retaliation from Lucic went over the line here.
Lucic, with the full momentum of his strides as he skated to catch Sherwood leaped off his skates and delivered a huge right hand to the head of the Blue Jackets forward, one that Sherwood crumpling down to the ice. It was not over there however as Lucic followed him down and gave Sherwood two or three additional blows to the head, blows that resemble a hammer-fist like motion from Lucic. A penalty was called on the play but the NHL's Department of Player Safety felt the play warranted an additional review and have now determined that supplemental discipline was the correct course of action.
For a full breakdown of the league's decision on this matter check out the video below: