2013 NHL Playoffs: Eric Gryba suspended two games for hit on Lars Eller
Ottawa Senators defenceman Eric Gryba was assessed a two-game suspension by the NHL discipline department for his hit on the Montreal Canadiens' Lars Eller in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals.
Breaking news coming down from TSN's Bob McKenzkie:
Two game suspension for OTT's Eric Gryba.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) May 3, 2013
Given the post-game reaction from virtually every media pundit out there, I'm quite surprised by this. Personalities from TSN, CBC, and even RDS seemed to have all agreed that Eric Gryba's hit on Lars Eller was within the rules of the game, and didn't deserve the harsh punishment it received last night--let alone supplementary discipline. I'll avoid commenting too much on the decision until a video is released explaining the rationale, but I failed to see any of the infractions that usually lead to supplementary discipline: Gryba's elbow was in, his shoulder was to the chest, there was no lateral movement, his feet were solidly planted on the ground, there was no targeting of the head.
It was easy to see why the call was made last night, given the visual impact of Eller lying prostrate on the ice with blood gushing from his face, but I expected the benefit of super-slow-motion replays to demonstrate the physics of the hit would make it clear that the hit was within the rules of the game. My best guess is that the league had a replay that wasn't available publicly and demonstrated something that no one outside of the Montreal faithful saw on the play.
With Gryba now ineligible for either Game Two or Game Three, rookie defender Patrick Wiercioch will draw into the lineup for the Senators. Although the means were unfortunate, Wiercioch's speed and puck-moving ability may end up helping the Senators avoid being out-shot and out-chanced as heavily as they were in Game One.
One thing's for sure: Game Four will be interesting.
UPDATE: The NHL has released the disciplinary video for the two-game suspension. Player safety officials deemed the head the principle point of contact, and for that--combined with the significance of the injury Eller suffered--Gryba was assessed the two-game suspension: