Nazem Kadri should be suspended. End of story.
Kadri’s hit on Tommy Wingels in the third period of the Boston Bruins’ 5-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night at TD Garden checks all the boxes of a suspendable offense. The NHL’s Department of Player Safety — which scheduled a Friday hearing — has no choice but to ban the veteran agitator, which would be a big blow to Toronto in its first-round playoff series with Boston.
The question then becomes: How many games will Kadri receive for his Game 1 cheap shot?
First, let’s look at the hit in all its infamy.
Wingels left the ice and didn’t return. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was unable to provide an update after the game, noting only that Wingels still was being evaluated, but the outcome of the hit — an injury of some kind — certainly should be taken into consideration if George Parros wants to maintain a level of consistency as head disciplinarian.
Now, let’s run down why exactly Mr. Kadri should watch Game 2 — at the very least — in street clothes.
1. Kadri makes Wingels’ head the principal point of contact.
It looks like I circled Kadri’s ass. I did. But Wingels’ head is back there. I swear.
Rule 48.1 states “a hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable is not permitted.”
In this case, Kadri clearly drills Wingels right in the dome, and it definitely was avoidable. Wingels was on his knees in a vulnerable position, and Kadri raced over like a mad man, covering a ton of real estate before delivering the crushing blow.
2. Kadri left his feet while delivering the hit.
Can’t do that, folks. Sorry.
3. Kadri has a relevant history.
The 27-year-old has been suspended several times over the course of his nine-year career for targeting opponents’ heads. He’s not considered a “repeat offender” because none of those suspensions came in the last 18 months, but there’s no denying he toes the line and sometimes crosses it.
If we’re going to hold Brad Marchand’s feet to the fire — which the league seemingly is doing these days — then Kadri also needs to be held accountable. His rap sheet isn’t quite as extensive as Marchand’s, but it exists. And that should be a factor in disciplining Kadri.
4. The play resulted in an injury.
Again, we don’t know whether Wingels will miss any more action. So it’s difficult to put too much of an emphasis on this particular area. But the Bruins forward got his bell rung and was forced from the game, which would have been an even bigger issue if Boston wasn’t beating the pants off Toronto.
One could argue Wingels should have been penalized for elbowing Mitch Marner up against the boards before Kadri’s hit. And who could blame Kadri for being frustrated in that moment, especially with the Leafs trailing 4-1 and having just served a two-minute minor for boarding? But there’s no excuse for lining someone up and going full-throttle at his head. The five-minute charging major and game misconduct Kadri was assessed just isn’t going to cut it. There needs to be supplemental discipline.
Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty was suspended one game Thursday for an illegal check to the head of Vegas Golden Knights forward William Carrier. Kadri’s hit on Wingels was far worse, and Doughty, unlike Kadri, doesn’t have a relevant history.
So really, anything less than a multigame suspension for Kadri is unacceptable. And that’ll be a setback for the Maple Leafs as they look to rebound from getting shellacked in Game 1.