Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry is facing a possible suspension for his late hit to the head of Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker during Tuesday night's game at the Xcel Energy Center.
UPDATE: Wednesday, March 13 at 4:11 p.m. ET by Nicholas Goss
---End of Update---
Following the hit, Zucker spent several minutes on the ice before skating to the bench with the assistance of teammates and members of the Wild training staff. He did not return to the game.
The incident resulted in the Ducks star receiving a five-minute major penalty for interference and an ejection from the game.
Perry will speak with the Department of Player Safety and league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan on Wednesday, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.
To no one's surprise, ANA's Corey Perry has a telephone hearing with NHL on Wednesday. That means suspension can't be more than 5 games.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 13, 2013
Here is the video of the play:
This was a bad hit by Perry. Not only did he make contact with the head, he did so at least 0.5 seconds after Zucker was no longer playing the puck, which is the amount of time that the NHL uses to determine if a hit was late or not.
Perry is one of the top power forwards in the game and plays on the edge sometimes with the truculence he brings to the ice each night. Unfortunately, he crossed the line between playing physical and being dirty on this play.
The 27-year-old winger explained the situation to Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register after the game.
"I was committed. I tried to let up. It’s hard. It happened so fast. It’s unfortunate," said Perry.
"I don’t go out there looking to hurt guys. That’s not the way I am. That’s not me as a person. It is what it is." "Well, obviously you don’t wan to miss games and be suspended or whatever. I want to help this team win. That’s my goal."
Even if Perry's intention wasn't to hurt Zucker, the result of the play and the penalty that followed help us predict that he will receive at least a two-game suspension for this hit.
During the 2008-09 season, Perry was suspended four games for elbowing Philadelphia Fyers forward Claude Giroux, but since that happened more than 18 months ago, he is not considered a "repeat offender," according to the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and NHLPA.
With that said, Perry does have a history of supplemental discipline and should be suspended for his latest illegal hit.
In Perry's defense, he was not skating at full speed, he did not raise his elbow in a reckless manner or leave his feet to make contract, and he does have a five-inch height advantage over Zucker.
However, this was a dangerous play, and there are four key reasons why a suspension is very likely for Perry.
- The head was the principal point of contact.
- Zucker appeared to be hurt after the game (he did not return after the hit), although no official update has been given by the Wild. He does have a history of concussions, and Shanahan often takes into account any injuries resulting from dangerous hits when determining the length of a suspension.
- The hit was late.
- It was a blind-side hit.
How many games should Perry be suspended for?
With all of these points for Shanahan to consider when he makes his decision, it's extremely hard to come up with a scenario in which Perry is fined and not suspended.
In addition to what's listed above, Zucker does not put himself in danger by turning toward Perry in any way.
Even if Perry had no intent to injure Zucker on this play, the hit was late, and contact with the head was made to a player in a vulnerable position.
Perry deserves a three- or four-game suspension for his actions.
What do you think of this hit? Should Perry be suspended, and if so, how many games? Share your opinion in the comments section below.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter. He was a credentialed reporter at the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and 2012 NHL playoffs.