Capitals defenseman Dylan McIlrath has been suspended two preseason games and two regular-season games for the headshot he delivered to Steven Fogarty during Washington’s first preseason game of the year on Sunday night.
McIlrath was assessed a five-minute major for an Illegal Check to the Head and ejected from the game. The four-game suspension comes after the NHL announced the journeyman defenseman would have a hearing early in the day on Monday.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety explained why it took issue with McIlrath’s hit: he took a bad angle which caused Fogarty’s head to be the main point of contact. Fogarty also suffered an injury on the play.
Via the narrator in the Player Safety video:
Fogarty and McIlrath both move towards the loose puck. Fogarty arrives first. Poking the puck down the wall with one hand on his stick. Before predictably, recovering into a more upright position. After he moves the puck, McIlrath finishes with a high, forceful check that cuts across Fogarty’s core, missing the shoulder and making his head the main point of contact on a hit where such head contact was avoidable.
It’s important to note that the head is the main point of contact on this hit, as McIlrath’s shoulder makes clear, forceful contact through Fogarty’s head and the head absorbs the brunt of the impact of the check. Further, the head contact on this play is avoidable. While we recognize that Fogarty does initially lower himself slightly to make a play on the puck that movement does not happen immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit in a way that significantly contributes to the head contact.
At issue on this play, rather, is McIlrath’s angle of approach. While hits from the side are not illegal, they are difficult to execute legally. And on this play McIlrath chooses an angle that cuts across the front of his opponent making the head the main point of contact. If he wants to deliver this hit legally, McIlrath must take an angle that hits through Fogarty’s shoulder and core, not one that causes the head the main point of contact.
McIlrath was signed over the offseason to give the Capitals more depth and snarl on the backend after losing Brenden Dillon and Zdeno Chara. He will likely start and spend most of the year in Hershey.
McIlrath was signed this summer to a two-year, two-way contract for the NHL minimum. With six one-way contracts ahead of him on the depth chart and a couple of prospects knocking on the door, he’s almost certainly going to be playing in Hershey. #Caps
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) September 27, 2021
McIlrath will also lose $7.5k of salary due to the hit which will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
More from the NHL:
Capitals’ McIlrath Suspended Two Preseason Games and Two Regular-Season Games for Illegal Check to the Head
NEW YORK (Sept. 27, 2021) – Washington Capitals defenseman Dylan McIlrath has been suspended for two preseason games and two regular-season games, without pay, for an illegal check to the head of Boston Bruins forward Steven Fogarty during NHL Preseason Game No. 4 in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, Sept. 26, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.
The incident occurred at 0:32 of the third period. McIlrath was assessed a match penalty for illegal check to the head.
Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, McIlrath will forfeit $7,500.00. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
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