Jake Virtanen Suspended 2 Games for Hit on Roman Polak: Latest Details, Reaction

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2016

Vancouver Canucks' Jake Virtanen, left, and Alex Biega, right, look up at the scoreboard during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Arizona Coyotes Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz.  The Canucks defeated the Coyotes 2-1. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

The NHL Department of Player Safety announced Wednesday that Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen earned a two-game suspension for his hit on San Jose Sharks defenseman Roman Polak.

The offending hit came in the second period of the Canucks' 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Sharks on Tuesday. The player safety department cited the lateness of the check as the reason behind the punishment:

"We agree with the league's take, but we don't want it to take away from the way Jake plays," said Canucks general manager Jim Benning, per Ben Kuzma of the Province in Vancouver. "Hitting and physical play are parts of who he is, but he needs to be more aware that he doesn't hit late."

Former player and current Sportsnet analyst Louie DeBrusk argued Virtanen's hit wasn't as serious as the league made it out to be:

Louie DeBrusk @LouDeBrusk

Since when is hitting a player close to a second after releasing puck a late hit??? Polak unsuspecting? We called that watching your pass..

Louie DeBrusk @LouDeBrusk

..Virtanen had every opportunity to head hunt. But still hit shoulder.

This is the second time this month Polak was involved in an incident that resulted in a suspension. The league handed Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse a three-game ban for being the agitator and instigating a fight with Polak, who suffered a broken nose in the incident.

Polak avoided any major injuries following the hit by Virtanen.

Virtanen will be unavailable when the Canucks take on the Sharks on Thursday night and then for Friday's game against the Anaheim Ducks. 

According to Kuzma, the 19-year-old is still allowed to practice with the team, but he'll stay behind in Vancouver when the Canucks make their visit to San Jose. His first game back will come on April 4 at home against the Los Angeles Kings.