NHL

Ranking the Dirtiest Plays of the 2015-16 NHL Season so Far

Allan MitchellFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2016

Ranking the Dirtiest Plays of the 2015-16 NHL Season so Far

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    Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

    The NHL season has had relatively few truly dirty plays during the 2015-16 season, but their severity has been substantial and cost several quality players extended injury time.

    The suspensions began early—October 5, 2015 for Raffi Torres—and have continued through the weeks of this season. Bad blood between teams for earlier infractions, bad decisions made in the heat of a moment and illegal actions from known outlaws all make the list.

    Here are the dirtiest plays—ranked by punishment doled out after the fact—of the 2015-16 season so far.

7. Washington Capitals Zack Sill Gets Two-Game Suspension

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    Date of Event: On January 5, 2016, Zack Sill of the Washington Capitals boarded Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid.

    What Was The Penalty? Sill received a two-game suspension, mostly because he saw McQuaid's numbers—meaning there was never a point where a hit was appropriate in that situation.

    Long-Term Impact: McQuaid has not played an NHL game since the incident and is currently listed on the injured reserve list. Boston is in a playoff race, so the loss could have playoff impact for the Bruins.

6. Matt Hendricks of the Edmonton Oilers Suspended Three Games

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    Date of Event: On January 10, 2016, Matt Hendricks of the Edmonton Oilers checked Aaron Ekblad behind the Florida Panthers' net. Although there was no call on the play, Hendricks did receive a fighting major for the ensuing melee. 

    What Was The Penalty? Hendricks received a three-game suspension for the hit, one the NHL Department of Player Safety deemed outside the rules.

    Long-Term Impact: Ekblad has not played since, with concussion worries making themselves known early. Matt Larkin of the Hockey News covered the story in the hours after the hit.

5. Brad Marchand Receives a Three-Game Suspension

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    Date of Event: On December 29, 2015 Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins clipped Ottawa Senators player Mark Borowiecki

    What Was The Penalty? Marchand was suspended for three games, due to a lower-body clip. This is not the first time he has been suspended for similar actions, and that contributed to the strength of the suspension.

    Long-Term Impact: Marchand missed the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens at Gillette Stadium. The only long-term impact could come with another event by Marchand, who is far too valuable to be lost due to this kind of lapse in conduct.

4. Radko Gudas of the Philadelphia Flyers Suspended Three Games

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    Date of Event: On December 1, 2015, Radko Gudas of the Philadelphia Flyers delivered an illegal hit to the head of Ottawa Senators forward Mika Zibanejad

    What Was The Penalty? Gudas was suspended for three games, with the major issue being a hit to the head as the main point of contact. 

    Long-Term Impact: Zibanejad missed one game and rebounded quickly afterward, and there should be no long-term impact for the Senators forward.

3. Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche Suspended Three Games

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    Date of Event: On October 16, 2015, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie charged Anaheim Ducks defender Simon Despres in what was clearly an illegal hit. Barrie left his feet, something the NHL Department of Player Safety looks for in these events. 

    What Was The Penalty? The suspension to Barrie was three games, reflecting the severity of the hit and the fact he left his feet and hit Despres in the head. 

    Long-Term Impact: Despres did suffer an injury on the play and has not played in the NHL since. Concussions are difficult to gauge, but it is fair to say he did suffer substantial short-term and possible long-term problems from the exchange.

2. Bobby Farnham of the New Jersey Devils Suspended Four Games

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    Date of Event: On January 12, 2016, New Jersey Devils forward Bobby Farnham ran St. Louis Blues' forward Dmitrij Jaskin

    What Was The Penalty? The verbal in the video provided by the NHL was very specific and included words like ''violent and predatory,'' so the four-game suspension could not have have been a surprise.

    Long-Term Impact: Farnham has no history for this kind of activity, and Jaskin did not sustain a severe injury. There should be no long-term impact from this single event, but Farnham is now known to the Department of Player Safety, and the event could impact the length of any future suspensions.

1. Raffi Torres Suspended 41 Games for Hit on Jakob Silfverberg

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    Date of Event: On October 3, 2015, Raffi Torres of the San Jose Sharks struck Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg with an illegal hit. It was a violent act with intent from Torres, who has been in trouble with the league in previous seasons.

    What Was The Penalty? Because of Torres' back story, the NHL discipline was extreme. Torres was suspended on October 5, 2015 for 41 games—fully half of the season.

    Long-Term Impact: Torres is well known to NHL fans, and his lack of discipline is famous. Mark Spector of Sportsnet wrote an article at the time reflecting the majority view—the league is a safer place without Torres. He has been slow to adjust to the changing NHL rules in regard to head hits, and it may cost him his career.

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