NEW YORK, N.Y. - Vancouver Canucks defenceman Alex Edler received a three-game suspension Friday for checking San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl in the head during a game.
The incident occurred with 14 seconds left in the second period of Vancouver's 4-1 loss to San Jose on Thursday.
Hertl was chasing the puck as it exited the Sharks' zone. The 19-year-old was leaning forward, reaching for the puck near the Canucks' bench when Edler checked him, spinning Hertl around and sending his helmet into the air.
"Edler does not hit Hertl squarely," said NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan in a video explaining the suspension. "He cuts across the front of Hertl, making the head the main point of contact."
There was no penalty called on the play.
Shanahan also said although Hertl had made himself vulnerable by reaching for the puck, he was not to blame for the check to the head.
"Although Hertl is leaning forward, the position of his head does not materially change immediately prior to, or simultaneous with the hit that significantly contributes to this head contact," said Shanahan. "Aside from his helmet popping up into the air, Hertl's reaction to this hit—getting spun rather than getting driven into the direction Edler was travelling—reaffirms our view that his head is the main point of contact."
Edler is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the NHL's collective bargaining agreement because he was suspended for charging last March.
Edler will forfeit US$182,926.83 in salary, which will go to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.