Niklas Hjalmarsson couldn’t escape supplemental discipline for a hit he dished out last weekend
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson had a phone hearing Monday with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. The reason: A hit he laid on St. Louis’ Ty Rattie during Saturday’s preseason game between the teams.
The result: Hjalmarsson will miss the Blackhawks’ season opener against St. Louis, as well as the rest of the preseason. His official suspension is one regular-season game.
Hjalmarsson’s hit was shoulder to head or shoulder, depending on who you ask and how they view it. It was a high, hard hit that came toward the end of the game, and it probably wasn’t necessary.
It’s still an interesting judgment against Hjalmarsson, considering a hit from a former Blackhawk that occurred earlier last week.
Andrew Shaw, now with the Montreal Canadiens, responded to what could’ve been called a slew foot by boarding Washington’s Connor Hobbs in a preseason game. Shaw’s punishment for a hit that was more obviously illegal than Hjalmarsson’s? Three preseason games off.
More from Blackhawks News
- Blackhawks vs Flames: Date, Time, Lineup, Betting Odds, More
- Three Takeaways from the Blackhawks’ Win vs Vancouver
- Blackhawks: Why Derek King is the Right Coach moving forward
- Marc-Andre Fleury Carries the Blackhawks to a 4-2 Win vs Seattle
- Instant Reaction: Blackhawks top Kraken for first time in history
Now that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Shaw has a more checkered past than Hjalmarsson when it comes to supplemental discipline, and Shaw’s hit here was more obviously dangerous and illegal than Hjalmarsson’s.
However, it isn’t surprising the Department of Player Safety is again being inconsistent with its penalties. Still, Hjalmarsson made his bed here and has to lie in it. While Rattie was skating through open ice with his head down, it would’ve been just as easy for Hjammer to take down Rattie, or separate him from the puck, without a hit that could be construed as illegal.
So losing Hjalmarsson for a game is far from the end of the world, even if it is against the rival Blues. What does this mean for the Blackhawks in their immediate future?
Well, the Blackhawks are currently carrying eight defensemen after some moves earlier today. Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Brian Campbell and Hjalmarsson are locks to make the opening night roster, while Michal Kempny seems pretty close.
Want your voice heard? Join the Blackhawk Up team!
On the edge are Trevor van Riemsdyk, Viktor Svedberg and newcomer Gustav Forsling. The latter of those three has looked really good this preseason, and Hjalmarsson’s absence for the final two preseason games could give Forsling more time to impress coach Joel Quenneville and his staff.
Ultimately, the suspension isn’t going to be a huge issue for the opener. The Blackhawks will roll with Keith (if he’s healthy), Seabrook, Campbell, Kempny and two of the above three guys. Their bigger issue at this point is at forward — finding wings for Jonathan Toews on the top line and staffing the bottom six.
While Hjalmarsson is as steady a presence as they come on the blue line, missing him for a game is nothing to get worked up about. Even if Keith is also missing from the action, no loss is guaranteed. And a loss in Game 1 of 82 shouldn’t be the end of the world.
So fans should be frustrated with the NHL’s lack of consistent discipline, but shouldn’t be terribly concerned about Hjammer missing a little bit of time. If anything, it gives him a little more of a respite ahead of a long regular season and, hopefully, postseason run.