The NHL has suspended Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin for three games for his hit on Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek during Sunday's 4-3 overtime loss. NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan provided the league's reasoning behind the decision in a video that can be seen below:
"As the video shows, Ovechkin has Michalek lined up for what could and should be a clean, hard body check. However, he launches himself to deliver the hit on Michalek. This is a violation of the charging rule."
The charging rule- Rule 42 - states that "a minor or major penalty shall be imposed on a player who skates into or jumps into or charges an opponent in any manner." Ovechkin was not penalized on the play.
Shanahan continues, pointing out that Ovechkin made contact with Michalek's head, even if it was not the principal point of contact:
"Although Michalek's shoulder might be the initial point of contact for this hit, the act of launching causes contact to Michalek's head."
Shanahan said that during big hits, a player's feet might come off the ice slightly as a result of impact, but that was not the case with Ovechkin. According to Shanahan, Ovechkin drove and launched himself into Michalek, "recklessly making contact with Michalek's head."
Shanahan said the league believed Ovechkin's assertion that Michalek's head was not his target, but once Ovechkin launched himself into Michalek, he assumed responsibility.
The league also cited Ovechkin's prior history - two suspensions and two fines -as well as the fact that Michalek was not hurt on the play as factors in its decision.
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