Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog has been suspended three games by the National Hockey League for a high hit on Anaheim Ducks defenseman Simon Despres.
The hit happened in the Avalanche’s 3-0 victory over the Ducks. Despres had the puck and tried to get a shot on goal, when Landeskog cross-checked him in the head after his attempt.
Head coach Patrick Roy told the Denver Post after the game he hadn’t seen the hit, but it couldn’t have been that bad without a penalty.
“I haven’t seen it,” Roy said. “There was no penalty on the play and I’d like to think it wasn’t that bad.”
Just because there wasn’t a penalty called on the play doesn’t make the infraction any less dangerous. I’m sure he’d like to think it wasn’t that bad, but trying to injure someone is about as bad as it gets. Once he saw the hit, I’m sure he changed his mind.
The National Hockey League explained in their suspension video that Landeskog’s hit was reckless and irresponsible. (H/T Denver Post)
Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog suspended three games for cross-checking Anaheim’s Simon Despres. Video: https://t.co/foKZApNiyM
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 10, 2016
“As the video shows, Despres crashes the Avalanche net looking for a rebound on a shot from his teammate. He moves back into the slot to collect a loose puck. As Landeskog backchecks through the center of the zone, Despres pivots and quickly releases a backhand shot toward the net. As (Despres) releases the puck, Landeskog raises his stick into Despres’ head, knocking him to the ice.
“This is not a battle for the puck or for positioning. The backchecking Landeskog comes through with speed and recklessly raises his stick into Despres’ head,” said the Department of Player Safety in the video. “While we understand his explanation that he was not targeting his opponents’ head, players must be responsible for their stick. Here, Landeskog delivers a high, reckless and irresponsible crosscheck to an opponent in an unacceptable fashion.”
Landeskog is a repeat offender, as he was suspended two games back in November for a hit to the head of Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand.
Before 2015-16, I didn’t associate Landeskog as being a dirty player, but two suspensions in one year certainly indicates otherwise.
The strangest thing about the hit is that this isn’t even the first time a Colorado Avalanche player has been suspended for an illegal hit on Despres this year. Despres’ head was previously targeted by defenseman Tyson Barrie in October, who was also given a three-game ban.
You have to wonder if the Avalanche have it out for Despres, or if he’s just lucky enough to be targeted twice.
The penalty will be costly for Landeskog as he’ll be docked just over $200K in salary. The Avalanche will miss him as he’s third on the team with 46 points. The Avs are set to begin a west coast Canadian road trip against Winnipeg, Vancouver and Calgary. Colorado sits two points ahead of the Minnesota Wild in the Wild Card standings and losing Landeskog is not what they need at this time of the year.
Landeskog himself has to smarten up. Two suspensions for hits to the head is idiotic. Once, sure, maybe it was an accident or a one-time thing, but two being twice suspended shows he’s reckless. He’s too good of a player to act so dumb.