Ovechkin Suspended Three Games for Charging Hit

Judge NHL Senior VP of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan weighed in on a hit by Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin on Zbynek Michalek of the Pittsburgh Penguins during Sunday’s nationally-televised game on NBC. His verdict is that the Russian superstar will sit out three games got launching himself during a check on Michalek.

Shanahan explained in a three minute video and in the video he hits on several points:

  • While Ovechkin had Michalek lined up for an ideal body check, Ovechkin’s feet left the ice.
  • It violates Rule 42 on Charging, when a player skates into or jumps into an opponent in any manner.
  • While Ovechkin aimed for shoulder-shoulder contact, because he launched himself into Michalek, the point of contact now became Ovechkin driving his shoulder into the head area of Michalek.
  • While Ovechkin wasn’t filed as a “Repeat Offender” under the rule, Shanahan did note that Ovechkin has been fined twice and suspended twice during his six-season NHL career.
  • No penalty was called, and Michalek did not miss any playing time.

In my opinion, I believe the suspension was justified. This is something that has been on the books in the lower levels of hockey for several years. Under the USA Hockey Standard of Play and Rule Emphasis, the hit could have been penalized under Interference because Michalek was no longer in possession or control of the puck. If Ovechkin would have slowed down or even made a hard left turn to avoid playing the body and skated towards the puck, he would have saved himself some money as well as helping his team by appearing in the team’s next three games.

When it’s all said and done, his suspension without pay will cost Ovechkin $154,677.75. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. Wrapped around this weekend’s All-Star Game, Ovechkin will miss today’s home contest versus Boston and next week’s Florida swing when Washington will travel to Sunrise, Fla. and Tampa to play the Panthers and Lightning, respectively. He will become eligible to play Feb. 4 on the road in Montreal.

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