The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/02/12 at 04:42 AM ET
Blues defenseman Ian Cole has been suspended for three games for delivering an illegal check to the head of Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader during NHL Game #563 in Detroit on Saturday, Dec. 31, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced Sunday.
The incident occurred at 9:11 of the first period. A minor penalty for illegal check to the head was assessed on the play. Cole will miss games: Jan. 3 vs. Phoenix, Jan. 5 vs. Edmonton and Jan.7 vs. Colorado. He will be eligible to return Jan. 10 at Montreal.
Here’s the suspension video…
And if you want the play-by-play, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford provides it:
Here’s the complete video explanation of the suspension released by Brendan Shanahan of the league’s department of player safety:
“At 9:11 of the first period, St. Louis defenseman Ian Cole delivered an illegal hit to the head of Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader. As the video shows, Abdelkader receives a pass at the middle of the ice from teammate Jonathan Ericsson as he is approaching the attacking blueline. When skating up the middle on a play like this, all players understand the danger and should expect that a good, hard full body check could be looming. However, what no player should expect any longer is that his head will be picked and made the principal point of contact, whether intentionally or wrecklessly.
“As Abdelkader is receiving and settling the puck, Cole approaches fresh from a line change. Cole overshoots Abdelkader, delivering a shoulder check not square through the body, but instead past the body and into his opponent’s jaw. If Cole decides to attempt a hit while approaching at this angle, he must hit Abdelkader square through the body and avoid picking his head. It is important to note that in spite of the fact that Abdelkader is moving up the ice, neither his speed nor his head positioning significantly changed just prior to contact.
“While we agree with Cole’s assertions that he did not intend to hit Abdelkader in the head and did not use his elbow, this is a quintessential example of wrecklessly targeting a player’s head and making it the principal point of contact. As was made clear in the department of player safety rules explanation video, that all NHL players were required to watch during the preseason, targeting can be defined as either intentional or wreckless.
“While Abdelkader briefly left the game, he returned to play the entire second and third periods and suffered no apparent injury on the play. To summarize, this was an illegal hit to the head on which the head was wrecklessly targeted and the principal point of contact. Abdelkader returned to the game and suffered no apparent injury on the play. Cole has no previous history of supplemental discipline in his brief NHL career. The department of player safety has decided to suspend Ian Cole for three games.”
Cole suggested that it was Abdelkader’s fault that in attempting to avoid the hit, Abdelkader essentially vaulted himself into Cole’s shoulder, but as we know, this league is not the one that blames only the players who get hit for not “keeping their heads up” anymore.
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