Suspend him or not: Thomas Vanek boards Marcus Kruger

Matt Larkin
Thomas Vanek is not expected to face supplementary discipline for his boarding play Thursday night. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

University of Minnesota alumnus Thomas Vanek’s homecoming hasn’t gone as planned. His point production is his weakest since his rookie season of 2005-06. When he finally did make a Wild headline Thursday night, it was for a morally questionable hit.

Let’s whisk ourselves to the Xcel Energy Center. It’s halfway through the first period. Chicago’s Daniel Carcillo stumbles as he enters the neutral zone with the puck and hands it off to Marcus Kruger. Just as Kruger looks back for the puck, he’s side-swiped by Vanek. Kruger flies face-first into the boards. The Blackhawks bench explodes in outrage. Vanek gets slapped with a five-minute boarding major. Have a look:

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Nyquist, Trochek latest to be publicly rebuked & fined for diving, but they won’t be the last

Adam Proteau
Gustav Nyquist (Getty Images)

Red Wings right winger Gustav Nyquist and Panthers center Vincent Trocheck were named Wednesday to the NHL’s public diving list, with each player receiving $2,000 fines and their first official citation under the league’s crackdown on embellishment.

Both Trocheck and Nyquist had been issued embellishment warnings – in the former’s case, after a Dec. 12 game; in the latter’s, following a Nov. 28 game – and if they’re judged by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to have reoffended, each subsequent fine will increase by $1,000 until they reach the maximum $5,000 limit. However, after their third offense, the coach of each player would also begin to be fined ($2,000 for the player’s fourth offense, and rising on the same sliding scale to a maximum of $5,000). Read more

Headshot on Matt Stajan earns Keith Aulie two-game ban

Jared Clinton
(Derek Leung/Getty Images)

The Battle of Alberta wouldn’t really be without the Battle of Alberta without some animosity between the two teams, but the Department of Player Safety has come down on Keith Aulie for his hit during the New Year’s Eve game.

Edmonton Oilers blueliner Aulie, who has only played in 13 games this season and has failed to register a point, will sit for two games for this brutal check to the head of Calgary Flames center Matt Stajan. Read more

John Scott sure to be suspended for violent knockout of Tim Jackman

Jared Clinton
John Scott (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

San Jose Sharks winger John Scott is going to be opening a shiny new suspension for the holidays.

During Monday night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks, after Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen had frozen the puck, Scott came together with Anaheim winger Tim Jackman. Scott then wheeled around with his fist and caught Jackman right on the chin with a punch that knocked the 33-year-old Duck out cold. Read more

Suspend him or not: Massive hit leaves Gionta stunned, gets Bartkowski kicked out

Jared Clinton
Bartkowski Bruins featured

Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski may be getting a call from the Department of Player Safety after a massive open ice check left Buffalo Sabres captain Brian Gionta stunned.

The hit occurred in the final six minutes of the first period of the Bruins tilt with the Sabres on Sunday night, and the impact was enough to send Gionta literally spiraling through the air: Read more

Clayton Stoner avoids discipline for Pacioretty hit. Here’s why the NHL got it wrong

Matt Larkin
Pacioretty hurt

Swing and a miss, NHL player safety department.

It was a particularly scary night for Max Pacioretty and the Montreal Canadiens. Pacioretty was already sensitive to dangerous hits, having sustained a career-threatening fractured vertebra in 2011 when Boston’s Zdeno Chara drove him into a stanchion. Chances are, ‘Patches’ experienced some traumatic flashbacks after last night’s collision with Anaheim blueliner Clayton Stoner.

After Pacioretty “admired a pass,” as the homer-as-it-gets Anaheim broadcasters put it, Stoner sent him hurtling into the boards with a late hit. Pacioretty struggled to get back to his feet, was in obvious pain and was taken to hospital for precautionary reasons. Here’s a look at the play:

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Junior player assessed match penalty for incident with official, suspended for 365 days

Jared Clinton
Danton Ayotte (via Facebook)

Danton Ayotte, who plays for the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Murray Oil Barons, is going to be watching from the sidelines for quite some time after Hockey Alberta suspended the winger for 365 days.

The suspension comes in the wake of an incident involving a referee during the Oil Barons Dec. 6 game against the Brooks Bandits. The 19-year-old Ayotte was ejected in the first period, assessed a match penalty, and the ruling from Hockey Alberta came down yesterday. Read more

Preds’ James Neal first player to be named & shamed under NHL’s anti-diving push

Adam Proteau
James Neal (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

It is something of an understatement to say Predators winger James Neal has a reputation among NHL players and officials, and it isn’t a good one. Even before he was dealt to Nashville this summer, he became infamous for embellishing and vicious episodes.

So it wasn’t in the least bit eyebrow-raising to hear Neal was the first NHLer publicly named and fined under the NHL’s new anti-diving legislation. He had already received a warning after a Nov. 13 game against St. Louis, but apparently the message didn’t sink in. Because even the most ardent Preds fan who’s being honest with themselves would have to admit the play for which Neal is being fined (which took place Dec. 13 against the Sharks) is laughably blatant diving: Read more