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The whole Pulkkinen in-person hearing situation is stupid

Today is supposed to be my "sleep and pack" day, but I can't help but weigh in on the news that Teemu Pulkkinen's facing a 5-game suspension and has to head to New York for an in-person hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety for the following hit:

It was an ugly, dangerous hit. No doubt whatsoever, and I hope that Mike Kostka is okay.

But from my biased perspective, the kid's all of six seconds into his first NHL preseason action, he bumps a guy and the guy goes into the boards. Pulkkinen gets 5 and a game, Kostka wobbles off but is being "reevaluated" for an upper-body injury, and during the regular season, the NHL looks at this kind of hit, looks at the injury, and goes, "Well, he got 5 and a game, maybe we'll toss in a suspension, maybe not, and that'll be that..."

But as we witnessed with Brendan Smith in the 2011 preseason, the league likes to "set the tone" and "send messages" early, and as such, young kids doing stupid things pay the price for hits that the league looks the other way upon during games 1-1,230, especially if they aren't high-profile players hitting high-profile players in a Columbus-Phoenix game.

The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness is confirming...

What is it about preseason games between the Wings and Chicago Blackhawks that brings out the nastier side of Detroit?

Teemu Pulkkinen will have a hearing with the NHL department of safety in New York on Thursday for a boarding incident in Detroit’s 2-0 loss to the Blackhawks Tuesday. Pulkkinen was assessed a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct on his first shift of the game on a hit on Chicago’s Michael Kostka.

The incident occurred just 2:16 in the opening.

Pulkkinen who was appearing in his first career NHL preseason game.

Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Pulkkinen can have an in-person hearing for any suspension that can exceed five games.

Defenseman Brendan Smith has been suspended two years ago for the remainder of the preseason and five regular season games for a hit to the head of Chicago’s Ben Smith.

As are MLive's Ansar Khan, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan and DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...

And as the Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc notes, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville pushed pretty damn hard for a suspension on Tuesday evening:

Early in the first period at the United Center, Pulkkinen drove Kostka into the boards and was assessed a five-minute boarding penalty and game misconduct. Kostka was face down on the ice for several moments before slowly making his way to the Hawks' dressing room.

"I saw exactly what happened," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said of the hit after the game. "I thought it was very dangerous."

Kostka did not return to the game the Hawks eventually won 2-0.

"He's not bad but he couldn't play," Quenneville said. "We'll have a better assessment (Wednesday)."

The hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety will take place in the league's offices in New York, which means any suspension could exceed five games. Telephone hearings are held for possible disciplinary hearings that would last longer than five games.

So when the Wings head to Boston for Thursday's Fox Sports Detroit-aired game (7 PM EDT start), Pulkkinen will head to New York...

And the fact that Mitchell Callahan also got tossed for a hit that didn't make the highlight reels or didn't result in someone being "not bad but couldn't play" kind of speaks to how ridiculously inconsistent the standards of enforcement are.

Worse, if you recall the Smith situation, the Wings had to keep Smith on their roster until he served five games and be demoted, so it is entirely possible that even Darren Helm's status as heading on to the IR MIGHT mean that Pulkkinen's $900K cap hit would be added to the Wings' Capgeek-estimated $2.387 million overage, and the Wings may still have to move three players off of their roster to get down to 23 if the new CBA works like the old one did in terms of keeping players on rosters during suspensions. Never mind, y'all corrected me, this isn't a big deal. THANKFULLY!

That would spell the end for two of Jordin Tootoo, Cory Emmerton and Patrick Eaves, and it would all but certainly require the Wings to avail themselves of the option of sending Gustav Nyquist down to the AHL before he plays in 2 more games and his waiver exemption expires (and/or sending Danny DeKeyser down based upon who gets hurt on other teams over the course of the preason).

So this could really, really, really *#$%@& the Wings over roster and cap-wise, it could really *#$%@& the Wings over from a competitive standpoint, and all of that may happen because a stupid, dumb hit from a player who's about as mean-spirited as a teddy bear that was given an appropriate penatly becomes a "message-sender" by the NHL's Department of Player Safety Depending on the Day, Time, Circumstances and Media Reaction to and/or National Exposure Relating to a Hit That May Not Be Suspension-Worthy When Their Whims Suggest That It Doesn't Count.

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mrfluffy's avatar

It would be the second time the league has stuck it to the Wings in the preseason for, in my obviously biased opinion, hits that aren’t nearly as ‘bad’ as hits you see every night in the regular season.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 09/18/13 at 12:36 PM ET

DetroitHockey's avatar

Umm…  I don’t recall the Wings having to keep Smith on their roster.  I recall him being shuffled up and down depending on when the Wings had a game and an open roster spot on a night the Griffins weren’t playing, so he effectively missed zero games he otherwise would have played.  In fact, the Wings demoted him the day of the suspension. Am I completely misremembering?

If I were to complain about a suspension for this, it’d be on the grounds that when Chicago did it just seconds before scoring a series-winning goal, no one gave it a second thought.  Maybe Nyquist should have lain on the ice for a bit longer.

Posted by DetroitHockey on 09/18/13 at 12:37 PM ET

journohoff's avatar

In fact, the Wings demoted him the day of the suspension. Am I completely misremembering?

No, @DetroitHockey, you’re totally correct. I assume they’ll do the same with Pulkkinen if he is suspended.

Posted by journohoff from Detroit, MI on 09/18/13 at 01:01 PM ET

wedge56's avatar

I barely see the game misconduct in this, much less a multiple game suspension.  Of course, I can’t see how big a running start Pulky got before the hit from this video.

Posted by wedge56 on 09/18/13 at 01:08 PM ET

wedge56's avatar

I just rewatched.  That first angle makes it look like a clean hit to me.  What do I know?

Posted by wedge56 on 09/18/13 at 01:09 PM ET

perfection's avatar

Posted by DetroitHockey on 09/18/13 at 12:37 PM ET

that’s how I remember it too. I remember there even being a discussion about whether the suspension should also apply in the AHL. and then they’d bring him up every few days to knock another game off.

but I don’t remember the cap implications if there were any

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 09/18/13 at 01:10 PM ET

calquake's avatar

If I were to complain about a suspension for this, it’d be on the grounds that when Chicago did it just seconds before scoring a series-winning goal, no one gave it a second thought.  Maybe Nyquist should have lain on the ice for a bit longer.

Excellent point.

Posted by calquake from a.k.a. Uniquake, workin' on my manifesto on 09/18/13 at 01:11 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

My takeaway from the hit is that I appreciated E busting his butt to get down there.  That’s all.

I hope the league has a better angle because from that low a camera angle it didn’t look that bad at all.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 09/18/13 at 01:14 PM ET



If the rules are the same as they were when Smith got his suspension, Pulkinnen can be sent down, but when he is eventually called up he will have to serve the suspension.  According to tsn.ca’s transaction list for Smith (http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/teams/players/bio/?id=6263), he served his suspension in November 2011 when he was called up.  I’d imagine that’s what will happen with Pulkinnen.

Posted by Garth on 09/18/13 at 01:23 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Thank you for the clarification, Clark and Garth, it’s much appreciated.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/18/13 at 01:28 PM ET


It’s exactly the kind of hit the NHL has to get out of the game if they don’t want to have a dead player laying on the ice someday.

It wasn’t the dirtiest hit ever, but it was reckless and dangerous.  Yes, obviously, being so early into his first action likely had the kid amped up.

You just can’t go fast into a guy who has his back to you.  It’s not always going to result in a guy getting hurt, but it’s something that has to be taken out of the minds of everyone as even remotely viable.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/18/13 at 04:42 PM ET

DrewBehr's avatar

Bottom line: Sh*t happens.

Pulkkinen isn’t a dirty player, he misread the play a bit, didn’t line up his hit correctly and caught him in the numbers. It’s split-second stuff. Prior to the hit, Kostka makes it appear he’s going to turn with the puck towards Pulkkinen, he turns the other way instead, exposes his back, bam.

Posted by DrewBehr from The Mitten on 09/18/13 at 06:18 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.