Hit to chin of Detroit's Abdelkader Saturday costs Blues another defenseman
By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- For the second time this season, the Blues will be dealing with a suspended player.
Defenseman Ian Cole was suspended three games Sunday night by the NHL for a blow to the head of Detroit's Justin Abdelkader in the first period of Saturday's 3-0 loss at Detroit.
Cole, who will forfeit $21,081.09 and it will be given to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund, delivered a shoulder check to Abdelkader near the St. Louis Blue line but inadvertently caught him on the chin 9:11 into the game, sending Abdelkader to the ice. Abdelkader left the game and was given the proper in-game concussion-related treatment with time off in the quiet room but returned to the game and scored a goal.
Blues defenseman Ian Cole was suspended by the NHL
Sunday night for three games.
NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations czar Brandan Shanahan offered the following:
"When skating up the middle on a play like this, all players understand the danger and should expect a good, hard full body check could be looming," Shanahan said in a video explanation. "However, what no player should expect any longer is that his head will be picked and made the principle point of contact whether intentionally or recklessly."
Abdelkader took an in-stride pass from teammate Jonathan Ericsson as he was approaching the Blues' blue line. Shanahan continued that basically it's Cole's responsibility to make a good, clean impact and do it square to the body.
"Cole approaches, fresh from a line change. Cole overshoots Abdelkader delivering a shoulder check not squared through the body but instead past the body and into his opponent's jaw," Shanahan said. "If Cole decides to attempts to hit while approaching at this angle, he must hit Abdelkader square through the body and avoid picking through his head.
"... While we agree with Cole's assertions that he did not intend to hit Abdelkader in the head and did not use his elbow, this is a quintessential example of recklessly targeting a player's head and making it the principle point of contact."
Key points were that this was an illegal hit to the head, no apparent injury was suffered and Cole has no prior history of discipline.
Cole, a first-round pick in 2007, will miss the next three games at home against Phoenix Tuesday, Edmonton Thursday and Colorado Saturday. He is eligible to return to action Jan. 10 at Montreal.
The Blues also lost winger Chris Stewart earlier this season for three games, when he was also disciplined in a game against Detroit for shoving Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall hard into the boards near the Wings' bench.
The Blues, already down two left-handed defenseman with Kent Huskins (ankle) and Kris Russell (groin), will likely recall another left-handed d-man Monday. Cade Fairchild, who was recalled earlier this season and played one game in Washington, is the likely choice although coach Ken Hitchcock said recently he has been given good reviews about Danny Syvret.
Here is the related Shanahan video in its entirety: http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=146497