Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens has been suspended three games for a hit to the head of Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang. The incident occurred on Saturday night at Bell Centre, and Letang broke his nose on the play.
Because he's awesome and a hockey player, Letang later returned to the game and wound up scoring the game-winning goal in overtime.
Brendan Shanahan of the NHL's Department of Player Safety explained the decision to suspend Pacioretty in what may have been the most detailed and well thought-out explanations of his tenure thus far. We'll go to the video.
Shanahan makes several main points. Most importantly, he notes that Letang understands that he's likely to get hit by coming across the middle of the ice this way, but that he's not to expect a hit to the head, even under that circumstance. Pacioretty clearly makes contact with Letang's head as the principal point of the impact, and that's a textbook violation of Rule 48.
The only thing that would help Pacioretty's case here is if Letang dropped his head while dishing the puck off to a teammate. If that had been the case, it wouldn't be fair to Pacioretty since it's pretty tough to line up a body check, only to have the head step in the way. But Shanahan explained that wasn't the situation here, and that the onus is on Pacioretty to hold up.
For that, he'll pick up a three-game suspension and he'll lose $26,531.24 in salary. Pacioretty can return to the Montreal lineup on December 6 vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets.