Stars forward Corey Perry has been suspended five games for his elbow to the head of Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis, which took place in the first minute of the Winter Classic in Dallas. Perry was assessed a game misconduct while Ellis left the game with a suspected concussion.
Everyone expected Perry to be banned, but most pundits are surprised to see him suspended for five games.
Perry was caught when he drilled his elbow to the head of Nashville Predators blue liner Ryan Ellis, who was injured on the play.
Ellis needed help to get back up and exited the ice as referees review the play to determine if Corey would be assessed a major and a game misconduct.
The suspension makes sense when you look at Perry's history. Perry has served four-game suspensions for an illegal hit on two previous occasions: in 2013 for a blind-side hit to the head of Minnesota’s Jason Zucker and in 2009 for an elbow to the head of Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux.
Perry himself defended his actions to the media after the Stars’ 4-2 win over the Predators.
“I’ve played with Ryan before. I know him personally. It’s very unintentional. I didn’t mean to hurt him. I hope he’s OK,” Perry said to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski.
“It was an awkward play. I reached up to try and deflect the puck. It’s unfortunate,” Perry said.
Stars head coach Rick Bowness echoed Perry’s sentiments in the press conference following the game.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s one of those things that happens during the course of a game. Corey Perry is a great competitor. A wonderful, wonderful player. Sometimes in hockey when you go to make a hit, you get into some unfortunate situations,” Bowness said.
“Corey Perry would never try to hurt anyone. He would play hard, but intention? No.”
The Preds weren’t so sure though…
“Yeah, that was a bad hit,”said Predators captain Roman Josi.“The kind of hit that you’re trying to get out of the game. He’s shooting the puck, and he gets him right in the head. I thought it was a really bad hit.”
Maybe Nashville will now get a sense of justice with this suspension. Earlier today, the Predators placed Ellis on the team’s injured reserve.