Last night's 3-0 win by the New Jersey Devils over the Philadelphia Flyers was filled with penalties. Twenty-nine, to be exact. Given how nasty the game got at times, it wouldn't be that much of a stretch for the NHL Department of Player Safety to review some of the plays for further disciplinary action. They did just that but for an incident that was not penalized. Brayden Schenn had a hearing for a jumping hit on Anton Volchenkov. Amid all of the hits, beefs, and actions in the Devils' home opener such as Claude Giroux's abuse of the officials, that got the league's attention. What's more is that they actually suspended Schenn for a game. Here's the explanation video from the league:
Look at the ups on Schenn! He skated tens of feet and got some nice air to go at Volchenkov. If he's not popular in local pick-up games of basketball, then he will be soon.
But seriously, I'm surprised that this charge warranted a game suspension. If it wasn't for this news, I would not recall this hit happening amid all of the other events from last night's game. As noted in the video by former New Jersey Devil and current senior vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan, there was no penalty on the play, Volchenkov was not injured, and Schenn doesn't have a history of either suspensions or fines. That sounds to me like this uncalled charging penalty is only worth a fine, which has been significantly increased from the $2,500 maximum from the prior CBA.
However, Shanahan carefully points out that Schenn made contact with Volchenkov's head with his flying check. While it wasn't a direct hit to the head or an intentional headshot, Shanahan stated that such contact raised it up to the level of supplemental discipline. I think that's the main reason why this resulted in a suspension but not a fine. The Devils won't be affected by Schenn's suspension; but they will be affected by that interpretation. Any Devil who goes high on a hit, regardless of getting air, in future games will run the risk of getting more than just a penalty. I have to say it's a risk since there's not a lot of reason to be confident the NHL will be consistent in future rulings. It's a risk worth avoiding all the same.
Incidentally, Volchenkov didn't seem that upset about the hit. According to Tom Gulitti's report from today's optional practice, the defenseman said "it's hockey." Perhaps. He did see the hit coming and as a physical player, he's used to taking it as well as dishing it out. However, the league sent a message to Schenn, the Flyers, the Devils, and the other twenty-eight teams in the league that jumping for a hit and/or head contact isn't going to be acceptable. I'm fine with that. Who needs to jump to hit a player anyway?