Penguins' Engelland gets a three-game ban
Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland on Thursday was suspended three games for his hit on Chicago's Marcus Kruger on Tuesday at Consol Energy Center.
But one of Engelland's teammates suggested the NHL needs to offer players a clearer definition of what constitutes an illegal hit.
"I thought (NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan) did a great job during the preseason making everything clear with the videos," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "The consensus in our room is that it's been a little inconsistent lately."
In his breakdown of the hit, Shanahan said Engelland "left his feet and launched himself" into Kruger's head. Kruger had been battling Penguins right wing Pascal Dupuis for the puck before Engelland skated into the play and made Kruger's head the "principle point of contact." Shanahan noted that Engelland had never been fined nor suspended but concludes that the hit was "a recklessly targeted shot to Kruger's head."
Orpik and the Penguins were displeased that Philadelphia center Zac Rinaldo was not disciplined for his hit of Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo on Dec. 8. Rinaldo elbowed Bortuzzo in the head, causing a concussion; he has not played nor practiced since.
"That one fit every criteria (for punishment)," Orpik said. "Rinaldo didn't make contact with his body. He just hit him directly in the head. Bortuzzo didn't have the puck. Elbow right to the head. And it was a late hit. Just a hit to the head, nothing else. And there wasn't even a fine."
Orpik acknowledged confusion about what actions could get a player suspended.
"There have just been so many hits that we see that don't get penalized or punished," he said. "So you think maybe some things are allowed. (Engelland) went right through the center of the guy's body. When the guy is bent over, he's going to hit his head."
Engelland will be eligible to return Dec. 31 when the Penguins visit New Jersey. He was not made available to reporters yesterday.
The Penguins have acknowledged all season that Shanahan's job is not easy.
"It's not black-and-white," Dupuis said. "It's gray. I think Shanahan has done a pretty good job. Obviously it's a judgment. The game is just so fast."
Orpik said he won't change the way he plays for fear of suspension, and he refuses to focus on such things on the ice.
"It's not in my mind when I'm out there," he said. "Once it is in my mind, I'll be out of the league pretty quick."
Orpik is waiting for someone to formulate a plan that makes sense for dispensing punishment.
"It's easy when you watch in slow motion," he said. "When you see it at full speed, it's different. Everyone thinks they're an expert on this, but you know what• No one has found a solution yet. So, I don't think anyone is an expert on this."
Notes: Defenseman Paul Martin (undisclosed injury) missed practice again and is unlikely to play tonight at Winnipeg. No update was given on the health of center Sidney Crosby (concussion). Center Jordan Staal (lower body) is expected to play. Defenseman Zbynek Michalek (concussion) is questionable.
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