The NHL acted quickly to suspend Dallas Stars forward Cody Eakin for his charging major on New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, sidelining Eakin for the next four games.
They explained their suspension in the video below:
The suspension was definitely deserved, if long because of the NHL’s propensity to protect its star players more. It would set a dangerous precedent had the NHL failed to act on a hit such as Eakin’s. Goaltenders are, rightly so, more protected than other skaters on the ice. They don’t take hits like forwards or defensemen do on a normal basis, and when they come out of their crease to play the puck the rule book makes it clear that doesn’t mean it’s open season on goaltenders in the same way as a skater.
The fact that Eakin connects with Lundqvist’s head as the primary point of impact makes this hit the type of play they’re trying to get out of the game, regardless of who the type of player it was committed against.
However, the NHL’s interpretation of the play almost certainly factored in Lundqvist’s status as one of the NHL’s marketable faces. They try to make the case that this was an intentional launching for contact, but that doesn’t mesh with Eakin’s turning of his own torso into the boards and avoidance of the center of mass of Lundqvist’s body. Eakin could have really hurt Lundqvist if he wanted to and didn’t, but the NHL makes the case that he wanted to in the first place. You be the judge of why.
In the shortened season he’s played so far due to a knee injury sustained in training camp, Eakin has recorded a single assist and accumulated a -7 on his +/- stat in just 14 games. He’s been mediocre on the faceoff dot, and hasn’t really seemed to generate positive possession on a team that is struggling to find their way this year.
With Mark Stepneski reporting from practice today that Curtis McKenzie is good to go, it’s unlikely the Stars will call another forward up to fill Eakin’s spot.