NHL Playoffs 2013: Was Suspending Eric Gryba 2 Games the Right Call by the NHL?

Eric McKelvieSenior Writer IMay 3, 2013

UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 03: Eric Gryba #62 of the Ottawa Senators  in action against the New York Islanders during their game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on March 3, 2013 in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The NHL has suspended Eric Gryba of the Ottawa Senators two games for his hit on Lars Eller of the Montreal Canadiens, according to TSN.ca. 

The collision took place in the second period of Game 1 Thursday night in Montreal. 

Raphael Diaz made a dangerous pass up ice which Eller received near the Habs’ blue line, only to be crushed immediately by Gryba. Eller flung violently in the air and landed hard on the ice. He lay motionless, face down, with blood pouring from his face as the trainer arrived to assist him. 

He remained on the ice for a few minutes before being taken off on a stretcher and transported to a hospital. 

The good news is that Eller was released from the hospital on Friday, but, according to NHL.com, he suffered "a concussion, facial fractures, loss of consciousness and had teeth knocked out."

As for Gryba, there is significant discussion in the hockey world regarding the legality of the hit and whether or not he should have been suspended at all. 

Gryba received a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct for the hit, but was it even interference? 

Gryba delivered the hit when the puck was on Eller’s stick. He also kept his feet on the ice, lowered his shoulder and initially made contact with Eller’s mid-section. It doesn't appear as though Gryba made an attempt to target Eller’s head, and on top of that, Gryba doesn't have a history of dirty plays in his young NHL career. 

That leaves Eller’s injury as likely the primary and perhaps only reason for Gryba’s suspension. Although Brendan Shanahan presents a very different view in the NHL’s explanation video, which can seen here.

With that said, no one should be surprised by the ruling, as Shanahan and the NHL have been inconsistent in their disciplinary decisions for quite a while. 

Whether we like it or not, it appears the game is heading in a direction where open-ice hits like this one will be penalized in some way. That is, if the player receiving the hit is injured.

I’m sure many fans and players alike would prefer if that wasn't the case and suspensions were based primarily on the act rather than the extent of the opposing player’s injuries.  

One thing is for certain, it will definitely be worth watching the rest of this series.