The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that star forward Auston Matthews has been suspended two games for cross-checking Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin in the neck.
Both Matthews and Dahlin were given cross-checking minors on the play during the Heritage Classic game which took place outdoors in Hamilton, Ontario. Dahlin was not injured by the blow and finished the rest of the 5-2 Sabres victory.
Matthews learned late Sunday night that he’d have a hearing with Player Safety for the cross-check.
The Department of Player Safety explained in their video that Matthews’ actions were deemed suspendable due to the aggressive nature in which he raises his stick to create the high, forceful contact to Dahlin’s neck.
Via the narrator in the Player Safety video:
As the video shows, Matthews and Dahlin engage in a battle for position in front of the net. The battle escalates with Matthews using his stick to shove Dahlin and Dahlin shoving Matthews to the ice in return. Matthews then gets back to his feet, approaches Dahlin, draws his stick back with both hands, rises up, and strikes Dahlin with force in the neck. This is cross-checking.
While we acknowledge Matthews’ argument that this is not a cross-check meant to harm or injure his opponent, it is also not a routine motion to box out an opponent or to gain body position. Having just been involved in a shoving match with Dahlin that knocked him into the net, Matthews aggressively retaliates by raising his stick significantly and creating this contact. This is a high, forceful cross-check that makes contact with an opponent’s neck with sufficient force to merit supplemental discipline.
This is Matthews’ first suspension in his 390 game NHL career.
The suspension will force Matthews to miss games against the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes. He will first be eligible to return to the Leafs on March 19 against the Nashville Predators. He will also forfeit $116,402.50 salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
Matthews is the current NHL leader in goals with 45 in 56 games. He has already missed three games this season as he tries to track down the first 60-goal season in the league since Steven Stamkos hit the mark in 2011-12. Leon Draisaitl (39), Chris Kreider (38), Kyle Connor (37), and Alex Ovechkin (36) could make up some ground in the goal-scoring race as Matthews sits the next two games out.
Here’s the full release on the suspension from the NHL:
Matthews suspended two games for actions in Maple Leafs game
NEW YORK – Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews has been suspended for two games, without pay, for cross-checking Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin during NHL Game No. 942 in Hamilton, Ont., on Sunday, March 13, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.
The incident occurred at 14:55 of the third period. Matthews was assessed a minor penalty for cross-checking.
Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, Matthews will forfeit $116,402.50. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
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