NEW YORK -- NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan decided Monday that Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Malone would not be suspended for a hit on Montreal Canadiens defenseman Chris Campoli during the third period of a preseason game Saturday night in Quebec City. Shanahan, who has been busy this preseason in his new role, said this decision was his "most difficult to date."
The difficulty was squarely in the fact Malone hit Campoli in the head. But Shanahan's evaluation is after Campoli lost the puck on the play, the Canadiens defenseman lunged in a way that the head became the check's principal point of contact.
“We felt that this hit was the most challenging one so far in this preseason for the Department of Player Safety to evaluate,” said Shanahan. “In the end, we felt that Malone had committed to the hit when Campoli was upright. However, when the contact was made, Campoli's head position significantly changed just prior to the hit.
"There are elements about the hit that we don't like – specifically, the principal point of contact being the head and that it was not a full-body check. But the overriding factor in our judgment was that Campoli's loss of the puck and subsequent bending forward for it just prior contributed significantly, if not entirely, to those elements."
To date, Shanahan has suspended nine players for a total of 31 regular season games.
A video explanation of the Malone decision will be available on NHL.com later Monday.