The NHL Department of Player Safety will be reviewing the high sticking incident by Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. Keith struck Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter in the face with his stick, which resulted in a four-minute double minor.
Keith stated after the game that he did not intend to strike Carter in the face. However, he did admit that he wanted to slash him as a retaliatory measure. Carter was not available to the media postgame, as he required dental work as a result of the incident.
Keith's decision to swing his stick at Carter was a poor one. While it might have been an accident, that doesn't change the result. How many times has a guy accidentally misjudged a hit and it ends up being an illegal check? Are those players not punished accordingly?
While he is remorseful, it shouldn't change whether his decision to swing his stick was reckless. More to that point, the principle point of contact was Carter's head. If the league is placing more focus on protecting the head, why would that apply only to body checking?
According to previous rulings from the Department of Player Safety, reckless plays that target the head get punished. Whether that standard holds true in this situation remains to be seen.