The NHL community has been abuzz today over the hit that Ottawa Senators’ Eric Gryba gave to Montreal Canadiens’ Lars Eller in Game 1 of their playoff series on Thursday night.
The hit was pretty gruesome as Eller hunched over a pool of his own blood after being taken off the ice on a stretcher. He was concussed, had facial fractures and loss consciousness when he hit the ice following the hit from Gryba.
Gryba was assessed a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct, but those punishments were not enough. Gryba was scheduled for a hearing with the Director of Player Safety, Brendan Shanahan, on Friday and was given a two-game suspension.
Prior to his suspension, TSN broke down the hit and declared that Gryba’s hit didn’t look like interference, but if it did violate any rule it was Rule No. 48, which is the principal point of contact to the head. However, this rule only applies if if there is no body-to-body contact. In hockey, a player can hit another player in the head if both of their bodies hit each other, which is what happened on the ice on Thursday night. So this was technically a clean hit, but the results of it is why he was suspended.
It does not look like Gryba intended to ring Eller’s bell. The hit came after a bad pass from teammate Raphael Diaz, which set up Eller to be caught in the line of fire. Hockey is a dangerous game and sometimes things like this happen. While this hit did seem more like an accident, players in Gryba's position also need to learn to adapt so these accidents stop happening.
It's not that surprising that Gryba was “Shanabaned”, but if he played for the Flyers it may have been for more games. If he was Zac Rinaldo, he would probably have been suspended until next season.