8 Notable Suspensions Given During the NHL Playoffs Since 2000
This just in: Hockey is an intense game.
So when playoffs come and intensity is incrementally ratcheted to season-ending levels, it should surprise precisely no one that the passion occasionally spills into the margins.
And for the more egregious margin spills, the NHL steps in.
A handful of players tend to get the league's stiffest penalty—suspension—during each postseason, with the majority getting a game off the ice when their physical antics cross the line. But some go a bit further, pushing the envelope into multiple games and occasionally leaving scars that linger well beyond their prescribed time in the penalty box and on the sidelines.
The B/R hockey team took a look at playoff infractions from the last generation or so and settled upon a list of eight notable suspensions given during the NHL playoffs since 2000.
Some names will be immediately familiar. Others not so much. Regardless, we invite you to click through the entire list and reply with a thought or two of your own in the comments.
Daniel Carcillo, New York Rangers
Date: May 23, 2014
Series: Game 3, Eastern Conference Final
Suspension: 10 games (later reduced to six)
Story: Carcillo, then a forward with the Rangers, was dinged 10 games for physical abuse of officials after he elbowed linesman Steve Driscoll.
Driscoll was trying to keep Carcillo, nicknamed Car Bomb, from the aftermath of a situation that began when New York's Derek Stepan was laid out by a hit from Montreal's Brandon Prust. Stepan left the game, and Carcillo was called for a charging penalty on Prust moments later.
Then, as Prust dropped the gloves for a fight with Derek Dorsett, Driscoll tried to keep Carcillo from the area and was struck.
NHL Rule 40.3 says "any player who deliberately applies physical force to an official in any manner which physical force is applied without intent to injure...shall be automatically suspended for not less than ten games."
The suspension was reduced to six games, but Carcillo didn't play again in those playoffs, and the Rangers were beaten in the Stanley Cup Final by the Los Angeles Kings.
Matt Cooke, Minnesota Wild
Date: April 21, 2014
Series: Game 3, Western Conference Quarterfinal
Suspension: Seven games
Story: Cooke was no stranger to the NHL's player safety department.
By 2014, he was with his fourth team in his 15th of 16 NHL seasons and had incurred several suspensions for dangerous play. He became particularly ignominious for a head hit on Marc Savard in 2010 that left the Boston forward concussed and sidelined for nearly two months.
This infraction, however, came when Cooke was with Minnesota and resulted from a knee-to-knee hit on Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie. He was given a two-minute minor penalty on the play but was later called to the league office and given a supplemental seven-game suspension.
Barrie suffered a torn MCL in his left knee and didn't return until the following season.
Cooke's Wild won the series with the Avalanche in seven games, and he returned for the final three games of a second-round series against Chicago, which the Blackhawks won in six.
Tie Domi, Toronto Maple Leafs
Date: May 3, 2001
Series: Game 4, Eastern Conference Semifinal
Suspension: 11 games (three playoffs, eight regular season)
Story: Domi was a popular player in Toronto—and everywhere else he played in the NHL—because of a perpetual willingness to check, fight and entertain. But those antics frequently crossed the discipline line, and 2001 saw one of the more egregious instances.
The pugnacious forward was playing with the Maple Leafs in Game 4 of a combative series with the New Jersey Devils when he skated past Devils defenseman Scott Niedermayer and leveled him with a left elbow to the head.
Niedermayer stayed down for several minutes and was taken from the ice on a stretcher, but later was able to walk to his team's dressing room. He missed the final three games of the series with Toronto but returned for the conference final against Pittsburgh and played in the Stanley Cup Final against Colorado, which the Avalanche won in seven games.
As for Domi, he missed the remainder of the series with New Jersey and was suspended for the first eight games of the following regular season. He played through 2006 and finished with 3,515 penalty minutes.
Nazem Kadri, Colorado Avalanche
Date: May 21, 2021
Series: Game 2, West Division Semifinal
Suspension: Eight games
Story: If you're looking for modern-day repeat offenders not named Tom Wilson, here's one.
Kadri, a 30-year-old forward in his second season with Colorado, had already been suspended five times for various infractions before reaching a half-dozen with a blow to St. Louis blueliner Justin Faulk.
This time, Faulk was carrying the puck into the Avalanche zone when Kadri came across and hit him across the chest and left side of the head with his shoulder. Kadri was ejected and later suspended for eight games, and the suspension was upheld by the league after an appeal.
It's his first significant infraction since a trade sent him to Colorado from Toronto, but Kadri was a repeat offender during his days with the Maple Leafs, getting three games for interference (November 2013), four games for an illegal check to the head (March 2015), four games for cross-checking (April 2016), three games for boarding (2018 playoffs) and five games for cross-checking (2019 playoffs).
He is eligible to return for Game 7 of Colorado's second-round series with the Vegas Golden Knights, if necessary. The Avalanche led the series, 2-1, heading into Sunday night. If they win in five games, he would be suspended for Game 1 of the league semifinals.
Aaron Rome, Vancouver Canucks
Date: June 6, 2011
Series: Game 3, Stanley Cup Final
Suspension: Four games
Story: Let's face it, Rome didn't exactly have a memorable NHL career. He played 226 regular-season games with four teams and scored six goals while racking up 185 penalty minutes.
But the Boston Bruins remember him.
The burly defenseman was with the Vancouver Canucks when they faced the Bruins in Game 3 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Vancouver won the first game in the final 20 seconds of regulation and the second in the first 20 seconds of overtime.
Boston took a 2-0 lead early in the third game when Rome dropped Nathan Horton with a blindside hit to the head. Horton left the ice on a stretcher and went to a local hospital. Rome was given a match penalty, a game misconduct and a four-game suspension.
The Bruins used the incident as fuel to win the game 8-1, and they later took Games 4, 6 and 7 to win the championship. Horton missed the rest of the series but was part of the team's Cup-hoisting celebration.
Rome also missed the rest of the series and played 46 games with the Canucks in 2011-12 before spending his final two seasons with the Dallas Stars.
Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets
Date: June 2, 2021
Series: Game 1, North Division Final
Suspension: Four games
Story: One side calls it a competitive hit. The other labels it dirty.
Regardless, Winnipeg's Scheifele will be spending the majority of the North Division Final on the sidelines after an undeniably crunching hit on Montreal's Jake Evans.
With less than a minute to go in Game 1 and the Canadiens up 4-3, Evans was wrapping around the empty Jets net to tuck in the clinching goal of what became a 5-3 win. As he did so, however, Scheifele barreled down the ice and drove into him with his right shoulder, sending him tumbling to the ice.
Evans left the ice on a stretcher with a concussion, and Scheifele was issued a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct. The suspension marks the first supplemental discipline of a career that began when he was picked seventh overall by Winnipeg in 2011.
Montreal led the series 2-0 heading into Sunday night. If the Canadiens sweep the Jets, Scheifele will serve the final game of the suspension at the start of the 2021-22 regular season.
Raffi Torres, Phoenix Coyotes
Date: April 17, 2012
Series: Game 2, Western Conference Quarterfinal
Suspension: 25 games (later reduced to 21)
Story: And where Scheifele was a first-timer in the league office, Torres was certainly not.
The journeyman tough guy incurred multiple suspensions over an NHL career that saw him take the ice for seven teams, and his 41-game ban in 2015 stands as the longest penalty in league history for a player-on-player hit.
But the playoff rap sheet is highlighted by a 2012 incident in which Torres, playing for the then-Phoenix Coyotes, left his feet to deliver a shoulder to the chin of Chicago's Marian Hossa in Game 2 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
"That is a violent, vicious, dangerous hit that needs to be taken out of the National Hockey League," analyst Eddie Olczyk said on the broadcast.
Hossa was motionless on the ice for several minutes before leaving on a stretcher. He didn't return in the series, which the Coyotes won in six games.
Torres missed the rest of Phoenix's run to the Western Conference final, where the Coyotes lost to the Los Angeles Kings. The suspension was reduced to 21 games, meaning he missed the first eight games of the following regular season.
Tom Wilson, Washington Capitals
Date: May 1, 2018
Series: Game 3, Eastern Conference Semifinal
Suspension: Three games
Story: What would a story on NHL discipline be without a Tom Wilson mention?
Though he was surpassed in these playoffs by the likes of Scheifele and Kadri, the Washington veteran has a long history of visits with player safety personnel, including one that came after a jarring hit that left Pittsburgh's Zach Aston-Reese with a concussion and a broken jaw in Game 3 of their 2018 postseason series.
No penalty was called on the play, and some video angles suggested the shoulder was the initial point of contact rather than the head. However, the league ruled that the head was the main point of contact on a hit where such contact could have been avoided.
Aston-Reese missed the remainder of the series but has since returned to play 145 games with the Penguins in the subsequent three seasons. As for Wilson, he returned for Game 1 of the conference final that year with Tampa Bay and went on to hoist the Stanley Cup with the Capitals after they beat the Vegas Golden Knights.