On Saturday, the Arizona Coyotes took on the Pittsburgh Penguins in their second and final matchup of the season. The game, which was actually pretty entertaining, was not what was on player’s and fan’s minds when it was over though.
During the second period of the game, Coyotes captain Shane Doan checked Penguins defenseman Kris Letang. Letang had just passed the puck as the Penguins were about to go on the attack. At first glance, the check appeared to be a big one that sent Letang flying into the boards.
Upon replay, Doan shoved Letang and because of the way that Letang was positioned, he fell backwards and hit his head on the boards. Letang was taken to the hospital and it was announced Saturday night that he had suffered a concussion.
Mar 28, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (58) is is attended to by Pens trainer Chis Stewart (R) after suffered an apparent injury against the Arizona Coyotes during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Well, today, a spokesperson from the NHL Department of Player Safety contacted Craig Morgan of Fox Sports Arizona and said that there would be no disciplinary action taken towards Doan.
Per Morgan, the Department of Player Safety said,
"“After reviewing the play carefully and from all angles, we have determined that this was an unfortunate result from a hockey play. It is not boarding, it is not charging, he doesn’t hit him in the head. He finishes his check by shoving Letang and unfortunately he falls awkwardly. It wasn’t really even a violent hit, although resulted in an unfortunate injury.”"
After the game Doan told reporters,
"“He’s so good we talk about we gotta make sure we don’t let him jump by. I just went to make sure I got a piece of him so he couldn’t jump by me. Obviously, he went into the boards awkward.“We have to finish our checks on him. I hit him just to stop him from jumping by. You never ever want to see anybody like that, especially a guy of his caliber and obviously everything he’s went through in the last couple of years, you never want to see that. You feel awful as a player when something like that happens.”"
Penguins forward, Steve Downie, fought Doan shortly after the hit, but after the game, had some comments of his own about what had happened to Letang. Here’s what Downie had to say to reporters,
"“He’s a hard player. He’s going to finish his hits. It was unfortunate the way [Letang] fell, but I have nothing but respect for Doan. He did the right thing. That’s hockey right there.”"
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The Department of Player Safety made the right call here. There was nothing “vicious” or “dirty” about Doan’s check. It was the way in which he fell that caused the injury.
The only thing about the hit that could be called into question was whether or not it was late. Letang had just passed the puck and then he was hit. There was a referee just to the side of the play that watched everything happen, but no interference was called.
It’s very unfortunate for Letang, he has a history of concussions and just last year, he suffered a stroke. He was having a decent season as he was third among NHL defensemen in points at 54.
There is no timetable for Letang’s return and one can never be too careful when returning from a head injury. So, the Penguins are likely to be without him for some time.
Here’s to hoping for a speedy and complication free recovery to Kris Letang.