It’s not even been a month since NHL hockey started, but the league’s Department of Player Safety is already busy. Last night, in the Vancouver Canucks’ 6-3 loss to the Boston Bruins; Canucks’ D-man Erik Gudbranson charged into Frank Vatrano. The young Bruin was hit from behind and smashed into the boards. Vatrano was then taken off the ice.
Five & a game for Gudbranson. Vatrano to the room pic.twitter.com/X4j9bT2OO5
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 19, 2017
Gudbranson followed this up by fighting Tim Schaller. The referee then awarded the Canucks blueliner a five minute major penalty and a game misconduct. The Bruins took advantage of the penalty and added three goals to make the score 4-1. It was also announced following the game that the DoPS are getting involved:
Vancouver’s Erik Gudbranson will have a hearing tomorrow for boarding Boston’s Frank Vatrano.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) October 20, 2017
It’s likely that Gudbranson will see himself suspended for at least two games. There’s been a lot of questionable officiating decisions recently but the referee got this right. It’s also probable that Gudbranson will made an example of. After all it’s early in the season and the best way for the Department of Player Safety to discourage other potential hits like this, is to strike the banhammer quickly and deftly. So the message goes out that hits like this won’t be tolerated.
I’m cool with that. Gubranson’s hit was nasty and uncalled for. If there’s a 4th Line Podcast Award For Being a Jerk, then he’s definitely the front-runner so far. Likewise, Schaller gets the award for being a stand-up guy for defending his team mate, despite taking a bit of a battering from his bigger opponent.
We’ll find out soon what the Department of Player Safety decides to do with Gudbranson but we’re likely looking at the first suspension of the regular season (Washington’s Tom Wilson was suspended in preseason for the same offence). If this then acts as a deterrent then the DoPS will have done something right.
What do you think should happen to Gudbranson? Comment below or join in the conversation on twitter.