EDMONTON, AB - Oilers Captain Connor McDavid was assessed a two-game suspension for his hit on Islanders defenceman Nick Leddy, the National Hockey League Player Safety Department announced Friday.
Statement from Oilers Entertainment Group CEO Bob Nicholson:
"We are highly disappointed in the NHL's decision to suspend Connor McDavid for two games. We strongly disagree with the decision and it is difficult to accept for our team and most important our fans at this critical point in our season. We will unequivocally support Connor as he explores his options."
Read the explanation from the Department of Player Safety below:
McDavid comes in front of Leddy's body and clips Leddy's head with his shoulder, making the head the main point of contact on a hit when such head contact was avoidable. This is an illegal check to the head.
Head Coach Ken Hitchcock commented on the hit prior to the ruling being made public on Friday.
"He (McDavid) went for the puck," Hitchcock said. "That guy (Leddy) pulled up. He wasn't sending a message to anybody. Nick doesn't play that way and Connor doesn't play that way. He's not sending a message.
"I don't want to comment on the player safety issues because I just know no matter what you think or feel, they're going to do what they're going to do. A lot of times when you go into those meetings, they already have something in mind off of what they reviewed."
Video: RAW | Ken Hitchcock 02.22.19
Hitchcock continued, commenting on the on-ice treatment McDavid receives from opposing players.
"I said this before about Connor: I get the fact that you interfere with him when it's in the play when the action is right around the puck. That's a puck up for grabs so you can do what you have to do.
"The part that's bothered me, and this a very short window for me looking at this, I don't like the fact that he gets dealt with way behind the play. It happened three times last night again where he wasn't 40 feet from the puck but he was coming and it was going to create a really good situation. A lot of teams pick him up early, lock on and he's not able to get back into the play. I just think that's interference."