Ducks' Corey Perry suspended four games for hit on Jason Zucker
Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry has been suspended four games by the NHL for his hit on Minnesota's Jason Zucker on Tuesday night.
In a rare twist, the announcement was made by Rob Blake, not Brendan Shanahan, on the suspension video released by the league.
"As the video shows, as Zucker reverses the puck to his defenseman, Perry continues on his path and hits the Minnesota winger nearly a full second after he released the puck, making significant contact with Zucker's head.
"In spite of the fact that all players need to be aware of his surroundings, it's perfectly reasonable that Zucker should no longer expect to be hit this long after possession. Furthermore, although all plays develop quickly, Perry has enough time to avoid this violent check or, at the very least, minimize it more significantly.
"While we accept Perry's assertion that there was no malicious intent to hit Zucker's head, the fact remains that he does make significant contact to the head of a player who is ineligible to be checked."
I must hand it to Blake, he has the Shanahan talk down pat. It's almost like they have the same person writing the script for them or something. Although why does it sound like he's talking in a tin booth?
Anyway, on to the actual hit. There was not much question Perry was going to receive some punishment for this hit even if the cynics among us thought he would skate. It was a hit that came in high and, as Blake mentions, late. That was worthy of the discipline. From there you add in the fact that Zucker was hurt and Perry has a prior disciplinary history and you get a four-game suspension.
Four games will feel like a lot to some and light to others, but it's probably just about right.
Perry spoke about the hit after the game and while he certainly wasn't excusing himself, he did note how fast the play developed. From Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register:
"I didn't change my path of direction. I was committed. I tried to let up. It's hard. It happened so fast. It's unfortunate," Perry remarked. "I don't go out there looking to hurt guys. That's not the way I am. That's not me as a person. It is what it is."
As Blake said, the NHL didn't see it as malicious, but it was reckless.
Fact is, anytime you make contact with another player's head in today's NHL they are going to take a good, hard look at the play. If anything else about it is wrong -- in this case the fact that it was late -- it's going to draw the ire of the league.
Perry is obviously a big loss for the Ducks. He was the Hart Trophy winner two seasons ago and this season he's second on the Ducks in scoring with 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 25 games for the scorching-hot Ducks.
The good news for the Ducks is they are off to such a good start that a four-game absence isn't going to put them in danger of missing the postseason, but it could hamper their pursuit of the Blackhawks.
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