The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has suspended St. Louis Blues’ forward Oskar Sunqvist for one game. The 25-year-old center would hit Boston Bruins’ defender Matt Grzelcyk’s head into the end-glass in the first period of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
The 25-year-old center would hit Boston Bruins’ defender Matt Grzelcyk’s head into the end-glass in the first period of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
While the play would only draw a minor penalty initially, the Department of Player Safety ultimately decided to take an extra look at the hit. With Grzlecyk suffering a concussion on the play and being listed as day-to-day as a result, Sundqvist’s suspension was certainly merited, even if the intent wasn’t malicious.
In 74 games this season, Sundqvist would score 14 goals and 31 points. The Boden, Sweden-native has also recorded four goals and nine points in 21 postseason games and has been a fixture in the Blues’ bottom-six all season long.
Below is the NHL’s video detailing the suspension followed by a full transcript.
Transcript of Player Safety Video
Wednesday night in Boston, St. Louis forward Oskar Sundqvist was penalized for boarding Bruins’ defenseman Matt Grzelcyk.
As the video shows, the puck is dumped into the Bruins’ defensive zone and Grzelcyk goes back to retrieve it with Sundqvist pursuing on the forecheck. Grzelcky arrives at the puck and immediately attempts to wrap it around the net. As he does, Sundqvist adjusts his course then hits him forcefully from behind with speed, driving him violently into the glass and causing an injury.
This is boarding.
It is important to note that the boarding rule places the onus to deliver a legal check on the hitter. Therefore, while we acknowledge that Grzelcyk does adjust his body position in making a play on the puck, he does not do so in a way that absolves Sundqvist of responsibility for the nature of this hit.
From the moment Sundqvist hits the bottom of the faceoff circle until contact is made, Sundqvist sees nothing but Grzelcyk’s numbers. This is not a situation in which a sudden and unexpected movement by the player receiving the check turns a legal hit into an illegal one at the last moment. When Grzelcyk begins to make a play on the puck, Sundqvist is lined up with the back of the right side of Grzelcyk’s body.
Sundqvist has time to react to Grzlecyk’s movements and reacts by cutting back across Grzelcyk’s body. This movement results in a more forceful and direct hit to Grzelcyk’s upper back and head which then drives Grzelcyk’s head into the glass. In other words, having seen Grzelcky’s numbers for some time then seeing Grzelcly put himself in an awkward position while playing the puck, Sundqvist chooses to finish his check into his opponent’s back with force.
Sunqvist had sufficient time to minimize the force of this hit, avoid the hit entirely or adjust his course to deliver a legal check. Instead, with the onus on him to avoid delivering an illegal and dangerous hit, Sundqvist adjusts his route and delivers the check directly through Grzlecyk’s back with substantial force, driving Grzelcyk dangerously into the glass and causing an injury.
To summarize, this is boarding. Grzelcyk suffered an injury on the play. Sundqvist has been neither fined nor suspended previously in his 144 game NHL career. The Department of Player Safety has suspended Oskar Sundqvist for one playoff game.