You may not have heard, but Capitals center Zach Sill has been suspended two games for boarding Boston’s Adam McQuaid. The news was buried by an afternoon of crazy wild hockey news which included Nicklas Backstrom being named to his first All-Star Game, the Caps signing Mike Richards, and Nashville trading Seth Jones to Columbus for Ryan Johansen.
In the Department Of Player Safety video, Patrick Burke was critical of the hit. In his words, McQuaid was “never eligible to be hit by Sill” because of McQuaid’s vulnerable position, facing the boards. “Sill sees nothing but McQuaid’s numbers.”
According to DOPS, Sill, in his afternoon chat with the league, said he had expected McQuaid to move the puck up the ice, rather than reverse it.
McQuaid was injured on the play and did not return. As of Wednesday night, there have been no updates on his status. He did not practice earlier today with the team.
GIF: Zach Sill's board of Adam McQuaid pic.twitter.com/g5aTxm5DwD
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) January 6, 2016
TSN analyst and long-time NHL official Kerry Fraser believed McQuaid should have taken a better route to the puck and Sill’s hit was not worthy of discipline.
I am very surprised [about the suspension] for Zach Sill, given the circumstances surrounding this play and previous other dangerous and deliberate hits that were deemed unworthy of a review and/or suspension.
While the injury suffered by McQuaid is most unfortunate, I have to say that in large part it was a result of the position the Boston defender put himself in prior to the reasonable and expected contact from Sill.
Rule 41 (Boarding) provides the referee wide latitude in judgment. While the onus is on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a defenseless position, the circumstances of the check, including whether McQuaid put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to the check or whether the check by Sill was unavoidable, must be considered.
After the game, Caps head coach Barry Trotz thought the hit was correctly ruled legal by on-ice officials.
“That’s just a hockey play,” Trotz said. “Unfortunately McQuaid got hurt. But that’s 100 percent a hockey play and that was absolutely the right call.”
Sill, who has 1 goal, 3 assists, and 96 penalty minutes in his 87-game career, will be eligible to return for the Caps’ homecoming game against the Senators on Sunday. If the team is smart, Sill won’t play then either.
Additional reporting by Peter Hassett.
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