The NHL has spoken on the controversial hits delivered by Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz and Tampa’s Steve Downie on Monday night. Kunitz was handed a one-game suspension for his elbow on Simon Gagne, while Downie was also slapped with a one-game ban for steamrolling Ben Lovejoy behind the net.
The decision to suspend Downie for his hit on Lovejoy is moderately surprising given the lack of discipline thrown down on Vancouver’s Raffi Torres for his similar hit on Brent Seabrook. Downie clearly left his feet on the charge, and you won’t get any argument from this blogger on the decision to sit him. Still, is some level of consistency from the NHL justice department too much to ask for?
Kunitz on the other hand is lucky that a one-game ban is all that he’s been assessed for his act of stupidity. Had Simon Gagne been injured on the play then we might be looking at a much more severe penalty here, but the Lightning forward got up fairly quickly after taking a Matt Cooke-inspired shot to the head.
The Kunitz and Downie suspensions raise the post-season total to four. Jarret Stoll of the Kings was forced to watch a game from the pressbox after flattening Ian White’s head along the boards in Game 1 versus the Sharks, and Bobby Ryan of the Ducks was given a two-game ban for his Bron-Y-Aur Stomp on Jonathan Blum’s foot.