It only took two games, but the first suspension of the regular season could be on its way.
Midway through the second period of Friday’s Avalanche-Predator’s matchup, Colorado winger Steve Downie laid a high hit on Predator’s defenseman Roman Josi in the Preds’ defensive zone. Downie’s contact was a little too much for Shea Weber, though — the former Norris Trophy winner grabbed Downie as the rest of the players on the ice swarmed around them.
Josi left the game with an “upper body injury” and did not return, according to The Tennessean.
Immediately after the game, Predators players and coaches were quick to comment on the hit and the player who delivered it. “I take issue with that,” said Paul Gaustad. “[Downie's] one of those players who looks for the crowd to cheer him on or something like that, I don’t know … it was a dumb hit and we know who did it. We play these guys several times this year.”
Nashville head coach Barry Trotz added, “If you watch the film, I think it’s pretty self-explanatory there. I think the league will handle it correctly. There will be something coming out of it I think.”
Trotz may be right. Among the many rule changes the NHL passed for this season was an amendment to the wording of the now infamous Rule 48, which defines penalties for hits to the head. The language of the rule in the past specified that the offending player must have “targeted” the head in order for a penalty to be assessed, but over the summer, the league modified the rule so that the head need only be “the main point of contact.”
In light of Downie’s history of supplemental discipline, it appears that this hit meets the new criteria for a meeting with Brendan Shanahan.
Downie has some supporters, though — Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy thought it was “a great hit” and “a fair check.” And of course, Roy is known around the league for his ability to remain calm and unbiased despite heated situations.
Check out Downie’s hit on Josi in the video below.
Photo via Twitter/kento19