No surprise here, but Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is expected to face a disciplinary hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety as a result of his blatant, dangerous cross-check on young New York Rangers forward J.T. Miller on Tuesday night.
That Byfuglien is likely to have to plead his case in a hearing with NHL officials has been reported by both TSN’s Darren Dreger and TVA’s Renaud Lavoie on Wednesday morning. The two veteran reporters caution though that, for the moment, nothing has been officially decided.
Read on past the jump.
Byfuglien, who wasn’t penalized on the play, isn’t a repeat offender as far as I can tell, which won’t help him avoid a possible suspension in this case, but could result in a more lenient suspension length. A short-ish suspension for their most important defenseman could prove crucial for a Jets club that remains in the thick of a vicious knife fight for a playoff spot in the rough and tumble Western Conference.
Based solely on the viciousness and injurious potential of this cross-check it would seem likely that Byfuglien will be invited for an in-person hearing. That’s a hearing type that permits the NHL’s department of player safety to suspend a player for more than five games (though it’s crucial to remember that being invited for an in-person hearing doesn’t guarantee a suspension of more than five games).
The cross-check incensed Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault, who described it as “violent” and “deliberate” in his post game media availability on Tuesday night.
“I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but it’s one of the most vicious cross-checks I’ve seen this year,” Vigneault said.
I think we can all agree.
One factor working in Byfuglien’s favour here is that Miller somehow avoided any significant injury, or any injury at all really, on the play. The talented, young Rangers forward described himself as “fine” following the contest.
Whatever the outcome here, what’s clear is that Byfuglien took his usually charming apex predator act too far on Tuesday night. It’s an episode that’s consistent with a major underlying theme of this Jets season: that Paul Maurice’s Jets can’t stop shooting themselves in the foot with needlessly undisciplined play.