Mar. 21, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA; Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (41) grabs Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler (23) and drags him to the ice as other members of both teams fight during the second period at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks Defenceman Alex Edler Suspended Two Games

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Alexander Edler has been suspended two games for his hit on Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith, the NHL announced Friday evening.

Edler will miss Saturday and Sunday’s games against the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche respectively. He will also forfeit $35,135.14 to the to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

“Smith goes behind the net to play the puck as Edler races in on the forecheck. Rather than attempt to minimize or avoid contact, Edler takes a direct route through Smith making contact with his head,” the NHL Department of Player Safety explained. “This is charging against the goaltender as is defined by Rule 42.”

A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease area. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an opposing player makes unnecessary contact with a goalkeeper. However, incidental contact, at the discretion of the Referee, will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.

“While we agree that Edler has no malicious intent on this play, we believe he does not make any effort to minimize or avoid contact.”

As an organization we respect the NHL and its process for supplemental discipline,” Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said in a statement. “While we may not agree with this ruling, we will move forward and prepare for our important game tomorrow in Los Angeles. We do not intend to comment further on this matter.

As I said last night, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if the NHL surprises with a suspension given Smith’s history of getting run and the fact he suffered an injury on the play, but two games?

Edler’s phone hearing was held around 3pm PDT and a suspension was announced on just shortly after 6pm PDT. In under three hours, they were able to come to a decision, produce a video, and record the voice over. That was fast—very fast.

It appears phone hearing has become customary instead of a tool used to reach a verdict. The speed of the decision seems to suggest he NHL had already made up their mind on a two-game suspension before hearing what Edler had to say.

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