The NHL announced Dion Phaneuf has been suspended for two games following his hit from behind of Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller during Sunday’s game. Phaneuf will forfeit $66,666.66 for missing these next two games, which is a good reminder that these players make a lot of money. The NHL will release a video of Brendan Shanahan explaining the ruling later today. Here’s video of the hit if you missed it:
Two games looks about right. Carter Ashton was handed the same length of suspension for hitting Calgary Flames defenseman Derek Smith from behind earlier in the season. Kevin Westgarth, a Carolina Hurricanes forward, was also given a two-game ban for running Mark Boroweicki of the Ottawa Senators from behind into the boards when Boroweicki was trying to get back to his feet after falling. Here’s the NHL’s suspension video concerning the Westgarth hit:
The Phaneuf hit was bad, but I don’t think it’s any worse than Westgarth’s. Miller was facing the boards trying to dig the puck out from the corner, and Phaneuf took a couple strides before running through Miller’s numbers. He had ample opportunity to stop and proceeded with the hit anyway.
According to his TSN player page, Phaneuf has never been suspended before, which surely contributed to him only receiving the two games. Along with Phaneuf and Ashton, Nazem Kadri was suspended three games earlier in the year for running Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom. The Leafs are now the most-suspended team in the NHL this season (and that’s not even including the Phil Kessel and David Clarkson suspensions from the preseason).
If today’s practice was any indication, Cody Franson will take over Phaneuf’s spot on the top pairing alongside Carl Gunnarsson. If that pairing continues to face the toughest competition, it will be interesting to see how Franson fares. He faced pretty soft competition last season, but has struggled this year playing against better players.
Morgan Rielly was the seventh defenseman in practice today, so Randy Carlyle seems intent on making him sit in the press box, possibly until he’s at least 30 years old. Then again, this might just be some sick and twisted plot to see who will be driven to insanity first: Rielly or the team’s fanbase.