Dion Phaneuf May Be in Danger of Suspension After Head Hit on Tim Conboy

Jason SapunkaCorrespondent IISeptember 20, 2011

TORONTO, CANADA - FEBRUARY 26: Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs prepares for a faceoff during the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Air Canada Centre February 26, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

Opening day of the 2011-2012 NHL preseason was highlighted by a game between the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Roughly five minutes into the first period, Ottawa's Tim Conboy skated towards a loose puck along the sideboards in his defensive zone.

While looking down and bending forward, Conboy poked the puck out past Toronto's Dion Phaneuf, who simultaneously delivered a hit on Conboy.

Conboy's body was facing up-ice during the hit. Phaneuf drove the left side of his body into Conboy, making contact with the head and shoulders.

Conboy was knocked to the ice but got up immediately and appeared unharmed.

Ottawa's Jared Cowen instigated a fight with Phaneuf after the hit.

Just hours earlier, the NHL released two rule changes which will be in effect for this season.

The first highlights changes to the wording of Rule 48, which regards hits to the head.

Dan Rosen of NHL.com describes the change as follows: "Rule 48 previously provided on-ice officials with the ability to call a major penalty for any targeted head hit from the lateral or blind side, but the re-written rule no longer includes the words lateral or blind side."

Essentially, that means that any hit where the head is the primary target, is now a penalty.

Elbowing was the penalty called on Phaneuf, but the league may decide to review the play with regards to it's illegality and the head contact that was made.

Phaneuf has consistently been one of the NHL's best body-checkers over the past few years. His hit on Tuomo Ruutu was one of last season's best.

Phaneuf is not known as a dirty or cheap player and most likely was not attempting to hit Conboy in the head or cause damage with this hit.

Unfortunately, Brendan Shanahan—the NHL's new head of supplementary discipline—may be looking to set an example for what this rule change will permit.

Should Phaneuf be suspended for this hit?