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Alexander Edler suspended three games for hit on Tomas Hertl

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

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Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler has been suspended three games by the NHL's Department of Player Safety for his check to the head on San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl.

Edler is considered a repeat offender after being suspended for charging last season.

The decision is a big one for the department of player safety as this is the kind of hit that can generate a wide array of opinions. What complicates the hit is Hertl's body position prior to contact.

According to Shanahan in the video, “Edler approaches low and athletic and is poised to possibly make a hard, legal check on Hertl. However, Edler does not hit Hertl squarely. He cuts across the front of Hertl making the head the main point of contact.

“It is important to note that although Hertl is leaning forward, the position of his head does not materially change immediately prior to or simultaneous with the hit in a way that significantly contributes to this head contact.”

With the angle showed in the department's video, Shanahan is right. The head essentially stays in the same spot, giving Edler an opportunity to size up and square Hertl's shoulder for a more solid check, something that wasn't as evident on previous videos. It's on Edler to alter his route appropriately, as Shanahan also states.

So why does this hit in particular matter?

This suspension is a possible indication that the Department of Player Safety, with its new wording on Rule 48, is taking a broader approach and strengthening its stance in regards to punishing checks to the head.

By removing the targeting language out of Rule 48, the only saving grace for an offending player is if the contact with the head was completely unavoidable. That doesn't appear to be the case here.

One would expect even more high hits will be put under the microscope this season.

The NHL has to be tough on head checks. Considering today's climate and what we've learned about head trauma in even the last two years, this is an important step for the league, and a positive one.

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