How Long Will Duncan Keith Be Suspended for His Predatory Elbow on Daniel Sedin?

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How Long Will Duncan Keith Be Suspended for His Predatory Elbow on Daniel Sedin?
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On Wednesday March 21st, Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks threw a vicious elbow on the defending Art Ross winner, Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks

Sedin played one more shift after taking the elbow to the jaw, then left the game with an "upper body injury" and was reported as going for x-rays. 

After the game, head coach Alain Vigneault would only say that Sedin needed further evaluation. But, the nature of the hit does lend itself to speculation about a concussion. 

The hit will certainly be reviewed by Brendan Shanahan, and the consensus by the TSN panel during the game was a suspension of approximately five games. 

There are a number of factors that argue for Keith to face a lengthy suspension. 

First, Daniel was clearly injured. In my opinion, this shouldn't be a factor in suspensions, but the NHL does give significant weight to injuries. 

Second, media attention. Again, this shouldn't be a factor in suspensions, but clearly the NHL does take negative PR into account.

All the elements are there for a big media story: heated rivalry game, a Norris Trophy winner, an Art Ross winner, and a vicious elbow.

The hit has been replayed endlessly on TSN, and is trending on Twitter.

Third, it was a blatant hit to the head.  

48.1 Illegal Check to the Head — A hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted.  

Keith raised his elbow above his own shoulder level when throwing the hit, and the principal point of contact was elbow to jaw.  

 

Fourth, it was clearly interference.

Daniel Sedin didn't have the puck, nor was he playing the puck.

Keith didn't have the puck, nor was he playing the puck.

The puck isn't even in some of the replay angles because it is approximately 10' in the air passing over top of Keith and Sedin as it was flipped down the ice.

There wasn't any (legal) reason for Keith to hit Sedin, as there wasn't any reasonable expectation that Daniel would be able to play the puck. It was high enough in the air that Zdeno Chara couldn't of played the puck. 

Fifth, it was retaliation.

As Hawks fans were quick to point out, Daniel threw a late hit on Keith a few shifts earlier, where his shoulder clipped Keith in the head. It could have been a penalty, but the principal point of contact wasn't the head, and the refs let it go.

However, Hawks fans who bring this earlier hit up clearly don't understand that this isn't a mitigating factor. In fact, it actually makes Keith look even worse. 

How long will Keith be Suspended for?

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This sets up the Keith hit as retaliation, which we know Shanahan takes a dim view of after examples such as the Brad Marchand on Sami Salo incident early this season. 

 

According to Dan Murphy of Sportsnet, after the game Henrik Sedin  stated that Keith threatened to get Daniel Sedin after that hit.

 Henrik Sedin says D. Keith said something to the effect of "I'm going to get you" to Daniel after Daniel's 1st period hit on Keith

A few shifts later, Daniel is lying on the ice after Keith's vicious elbow. 

There are a few mitigating factors in Keith's favour though.

He hasn't been suspended, so he won't be facing a repeat offender sentence.

Keith is also a star. Again, this is something that I think shouldn't be a factor, but clearly the NHL does take this into account. 

Taking this all into account, I think five games sounds about right.

I'd like it to be more, especially if Daniel is out for a significant period of time, but I can't think we can honestly expect more than that.

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