The National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety has officially issued the first suspension of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
According to an official announcement from the league, Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett has received a one game suspension following a dangerous hit delivered to the back of Tampa Bay Lightning forward Blake Coleman. The move marks the first time Bennett has been suspended during his career in the league, something that no doubt led to leniency on the part of the league.
Bennett has been suspended for one game under the league's "boarding" rules, with the Department of Player Safety describing this as a "forceful"and "dangerous" hit that could have been easily avoided given how much time Bennett had to adjust before making contact.
At the time of the incident the NHL officials on the ice only gave Bennett a 2 minute minor penalty and while that may seem far too light given just how bad this hit looked in real time, the officials were holding on to their whistles in this one despite what the number of penalty minutes accumulated by both teams in Game 1 would have you believe.
If you missed the hit at the time, here's a slow motion replay from an angle that shows just how dangerous this was.
Although it was not mentioned at all in the National Hockey League's ruling on the play, I suspect that another reason this hit may have led to a suspension was because it appeared to be retaliation for an incident involving Coleman moments earlier. As you can see from this second replay below, Coleman delivered a hit to Florida Panthers star center Aleksander Barkov that the Panthers clearly took exception to.
The reality for the Panthers now however is that they will be forced to claw back from a one game deficit in this series after the Lightning took Game 1 in the series, and they will have to do so without one of their gritty forwards for Game 2 of the series.
For a full breakdown on the ruling from the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety, you can listen to it in the video below courtesy of the NHL.