Ducks defenseman James Wisniewski has been suspended for eight games, without pay, for delivering a hit to the head on Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in the second period of Wednesday night's 4-2 Anaheim victory at Honda Center.
The hit resulted in a two-minute minor for charging and a five-minute major for the subsequent fight Wisniewski got into with Duncan Keith. Seabrook did not return to the game.
Wisniewski, who was suspended for two games last October 31 for a hit on Shane Doan of the Coyotes, now is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
"Mr. Wisniewski delivered a retaliatory hit to the head of an opponent who never had possession of the puck," said Colin Campbell, NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations. "The fact that Mr. Wisniewski is a repeat offender also entered into this decision."
Wisniewski will be eligible to return April 3 at Los Angeles.
“I am truly sorry that my friend Brent Seabrook was hurt on the play," Wisniewski said in a statement. "I certainly wish him the best. I am, however, very disappointed in the length of the suspension. Eight games is incredibly hard to swallow, especially in comparison to other recent hits that have resulted in lesser punishment.”
Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray spoke to reporters via conference call after the suspension was announced. Following is a transcript:
First of all, we love the way Wiz plays and we want him to play the game hard. That is how he has to play and he is very effective doing that. In this instance, he crossed the line. He went too far and he was going to get suspended. I applaud the league cracking down on these things. He should get suspended. I hope they continue to work on this. What happened at the last GM Meetings and the direction we’re going is wonderful.
On the length of the suspension The problem I have is the length of it. It just seems that Wiz at this point because of the climate of the league is an easy target. I sure as heck hope that if we’re going to crack down, that it is across the board no matter if you’re a star player or not. It can’t just be on certain people at the right time. Nothing makes you cringe more than when you see some of the hits this year. All I say is, if you’re going to get them, let’s get them all.
He crossed the line and has to get whacked. I support Colin (Campbell). Colin’s job is a tough job to do. It is not easy. Let’s make it equal across the board, whether it is a fourth-line player or first-line player, whether the player plays on the East Coast or the West Coast. Don’t forget, what was the last suspension of eight games or more? Chris Pronger when he was in Anaheim. Let’s just make sure it is even.
The game has evolved and we play it different now. We have to get rid of this stuff. I’m all for it. I want this stuff gone. I cringe. My boys played the game. It’s awful. I can’t imagine being a parent watching that. We have to clean it up, but let’s be consistent.
On the impact of losing Wisniewski He’s a 20-some minute guy. Obviously, it’s an awful blow to the hockey team.
Wisniewski and coach Randy Carlyle spoke to media this morning prior to the suspension being made official:
Wisniewski "There was no intention of having what happened happen. I didn’t go in there with an intention to hurt. People will say that. I honestly thought I was making a hockey play. I thought the puck was there. This is a fast game, so sometimes you can look like an idiot by making a decision. Other times, it’s just a regular hit. I didn’t use my elbow. I really think my face collided with his."
On Seabrook "I have tried to reach him. They played tonight, so hopefully he’ll be feeling well enough to go play in L.A. I sent a text last night and left a message this morning."
Carlyle "We all got a chance to see it. The thing you always wonder is what is going through players in their minds. In my mind, he was going to the defense of what we would describe as a questionable hit against one of our top goal-scorers. Is there a theory if there would have been a penalty called on that play, would that have been the end of it? Those are the kind of things that you always wonder. We know our player went out and made a hit on an opposition player. We’ll let the league make a decision on what they deem as necessary for the circumstances."