Nick Ritchie has been suspended.
Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire/Getty  

Nick Ritchie has been suspended.

Player Safety comes down on Nick Ritchie.

Jonathan Larivee

I thought there was a chance that veteran forward Nick Ritchie could get away with only a fine given how relatively minor this infraction appeared to be at the time, but it seems the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety felt that was too light a punishment.

According to an official press release from the league's Department of Player Safety, Ritchie, a forward currently playing for the Arizona Coyotes, has been suspended 1 game for "slashing" Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. The incident occurred on Friday night during a game between the Coyotes and Ducks that turned out to be a pretty heated affair in spite of the fact that it was a one sided blowout in favor of the Ducks.

This slash by Ritchie however is not what I would have considered one of the more egregious incidents of the evening, with Ritchie's "slashing" more closely resembling a very mild slap than anything that would otherwise come to mind if you had heard someone talking about a player being slashed in the face. In fact in their official ruling the league even acknowledged that the blow had been delivered without any substantial force behind it, while adding that if it had been Ritchie would be facing a much harsher punishment for his actions.

I feel like this one just came down to the NHL wanting to send a message that using your stick to strike an opponent in the head will be punished harshly and swiftly in an effort to discourage players from even thinking about what could easily turn into a far more dangerous situation. For example if Ritchie had missed and poked Shattenkirk in the eye with the blade of his stick, we could be having a much different conversation about this incident.

For a full breakdown of why the Department of Player Safety has settled on a 1 game suspension for this infraction as well as a more detailed description on what led to their conclusion you can check out their full analysis of the incident in the video below, courtesy of the National Hockey League.