Matt Beleskey: Derek Stepan ‘Didn’t Brace Himself’ On Controversial Hit

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BOSTON — Derek Stepan will be out indefinitely for the New York Rangers after a hit from Bruins winger Matt Beleskey left the center with multiple broken ribs.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, who confirmed the extent of Stepan’s injury after Friday’s 4-3 Bruins win at TD Garden, compared Beleskey’s check to one that knocked then-Bruins winger Nathan Horton out of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

“In our opinion, it was a late hit,” Vigneault, who coached the Vancouver Canucks in that Cup Final, told reporters. “More than a second, and he was a couple of feet away from the boards. So, we?ll have to wait and see. I remember Aaron Rome in this building, 0.6 seconds late, getting suspended four games in the Stanley Cup Final, so (it will) be interesting to see.”

On the play in question, Beleskey hit Stepan hard into the boards a second or two after the latter had released the puck. He was not penalized, but the hit prompted Rangers defenseman Dylan McIlrath to challenge him to a fight, which McIlrath won in decisive fashion.

When questioned about the incident after the game, Beleskey implied that Stepan should have been more aware of his surroundings.

“I just think he didn?t think I was going to hit him,” he said. “He kind of didn?t brace himself. I didn?t take any extra strides or anything like that. Maybe, maybe, a little bit late. But he saw me coming, I came from the front. So, it?s unfortunate that … I think I just saw he?s injured, so hopefully he?s all right.”

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety will review the hit, a source told the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

Stepan has appeared in all 23 games for the Rangers this season, tallying six goals and six assists.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images

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