Joffrey Lupul received a two-game suspension for hitting Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman in the head with his shoulder.
The Toronto Maple Leafs winger received the first suspension of his NHL career from Brendan Shanahan, the league’s director of player safety, who said Lupul “recklessly targets Hedman’s head” in the video explaining the decision that is posted on the NHL’s website.
Lupul made the hit in Wednesday night’s 4-2 win by the Leafs over the Lightning, which put him out for Thursday’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres and Saturday’s game in Toronto against the Boston Bruins. This is a blow to the Leafs’ offence in their fight to stay in the NHL playoff race, as Lupul had three goals in two games after coming back from a 25-game absence due to a broken arm.
Hedman left Wednesday’s game briefly after the hit early in the third period but came back to finish the game. Lupul received a two-minute minor penalty for a hit to the head.
Shanahan said the fact this was Lupul’s first encounter with supplemental discipline from the NHL and that Hedman did not appear to be hurt were factors in his decision. Lupul will lose about $46,000 (U.S.) in salary due to the suspension.
Lupul was contrite but expressed frustration at trying to adjust to different standards for headshots than earlier in his career. He also said he did not intentionally aim for Hedman’s head and he was glad the defenceman was not injured.
“At the end of the day, I hit him on the head,” Lupul said. “That’s a penalty now. At the last second, I decided to try a shoulder-to-shoulder hit. It was a border-line play and I take responsibility.
“Those aren’t rules I grew up with but those are the rules now.”
The Leafs called up forward Ryan Hamilton from their Toronto Marlies farm team to take Lupul’s place on the roster.