Niklas Hjalmarsson (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Chicago Blackhawks blueliner received a match penalty for his late-game hit on the St. Louis Blues right winger. A longer punishment now could be coming.
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson will have some explaining to do Monday when he’s scheduled to have a phone hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety.
The phone hearing comes as a result of a match penalty Hjalmarsson was issued for charging and an illegal check to the head of St. Louis Blues right winger Ty Rattie on Saturday night.
Chicago’s Niklas Hjalmarsson will have a hearing tomorrow for charging/illegal check to the head on St. Louis’ Ty Rattie.— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) October 2, 2016
Hjalmarsson made the hit in the neutral zone with 1:05 remaining in Chicago’s 4-0 win at the United Center. Rattie was trying to get by the checking of Blackhawks left winger Richard Panik when Hjalmarsson stepped into him. While the video shows his elbow was down, Hjalmarsson’s feet did leave the ice to administer the hit. His shoulder appears to make contact with Rattie’s head.
Hjalmarsson was suspension once before. He received a two-game ban for hitting then-Buffalo Sabres right winger Jason Pominville from behind in 2010. However, he would no longer be considered a repeat offender. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said after the game that Rattie was fine.
Hjalmarsson is a top-four defenseman with the Blackhawks who played for Sweden during the recent World Cup of Hockey. He posted two goals and 24 points in 81 games last season. Rattie spent the majority of the 2015-16 campaign in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves where he tallied 17 goals and 46 points in 62 games. He appeared in 13 games in with Blues, scoring four times while adding a pair of helpers.
UPDATE: The NHL's Department of Player Safety announced Monday that Hjalmarsson has been suspended for the remainder of the pre-season, and will be banned for the first game of the regular season.
"Approaching with speed, Hjalmarsson launches up and into his hit, making significant contact with Rattie's head," Patrick Burke, the NHL's director of player safety, said in the suspension video. Burke added that while Rattie was eligible to be hit, the check came in an illegal manner, with the Blackhawks defenseman launching himself to make contact.