Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele has been suspendedfour games for his hit on the Montreal Canadiens’ Jake Evans in Game 1 of their first-round series that resulted in Evans leaving on a stretcher.
The NHL Department of Player Safety made the announcement Thursday night, keeping Scheifele out until at least Game 6 of this series. Should the Canadiens wrap up the series in four games, before Scheifele’s suspension is through, the final game of his suspension will carry over to next regular season.
Scheifele skated with speed – nearly covering the length of the ice – and connected with a defenseless Evans, who did not see Scheifele coming after having just scored an empty-net goal on a wraparound to give Montreal a 5-3 lead.
Said the NHL of its decision to suspend Scheifele for charging: “This is a player who has traveled a considerable distance, is moving with exceptional speed and is fully aware of his momentum, who chooses to charge into a vulnerable opponent with a high, predatory hit that causes an injury.”
A stretcher took Evans off the rink; he was able to move his arms.
Evans’ teammates, some of whom were quick to call it “a dirty hit” and “disgusting,” anticipated the level of discipline from the NHL.
“The league is going to take care of it,” Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson said. “If (Scheifele) gets back in the series, we’re going to make his life miserable.”
The Department of Player Safety came under fire near the end of the regular season for its handling of actions by the Washington Capitals’ Tom Wilson, a forward with a reputation for controversial hits. He received the maximum fine but no suspension for roughing the New York Rangers’ Pavel Buchnevich, which touched off a brawl that saw Wilson slam Rangers star Artemi Panarin to the ground without a helmet.