By Derek Jory
The verdict is in: Duncan Keith will serve a five-game suspension for his hit on Daniel Sedin.
Word came down from Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s senior vice president of player safety and hockey operations, late Friday afternoon when he released a video that outlined the play and his ruling.
The play in question went down with 6:24 remaining in the first period of Wednesday’s game between the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks in the Windy City when Keith hit Daniel with an elbow to the head in front of the penalty boxes.
As Shanahan explained the play:
“Daniel Sedin is skating through the neutral zone when he turns and stops in an attempt to corral a cross-ice pass. As the puck takes an unusual bounce off the boards and skips over his head, he turns towards the Chicago zone to follow the play. Keith quickly pivots when he sees Sedin stop and moves up to close the gap on the Vancouver player. As Sedin turns up ice, Keith closes on his opponent and extends his elbow, striking Sedin in the face.”
Daniel played a brief shift on the ensuing two-minute power play before being taken to the locker room; he was flown back to Vancouver for further testing Thursday with Henrik Sedin saying post-game in Dallas that Daniel was suffering from headaches.
The fact that Keith has no prior suspensions and only one fine during his NHL career weighed into Shanahan’s decision, but ultimately the Blackhawks defenceman was in violation of Rule 45 – Elbowing, defined as “the use of an extended elbow in a manner that may or may not cause injury.”
Shanahan said the hit was “dangerous, reckless and caused injury,” and felt a five-game suspension was just.
Laurence Gilman, vice president of hockey operations and assistant general manager, addressed the suspension from the Canucks team hotel in Denver. He said Vancouver is ready to move on.
“We respect the league’s decision, that being said, our primary concern is Daniel’s health and well being and we look forward to him having a full recovery and getting back to our line-up and contributing to our team as soon as possible,” said Gilman, who could not confirm that Daniel suffered a concussion on the play in question.
“Daniel is back in Vancouver, he’s gone through some analysis, he’s seen some consultants, and I can’t really update beyond that.”
The Canucks will again be without the services of their leading scorer and second leading point-getter Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche.