BOSTON – The Bruins certainly have seen this movie before after watching Nazem Kadri get suspended in last spring’s first round playoff series for a predatory hit on Tommy Wingels. Kadri is facing an even longer suspension this time around with an in-person hearing scheduled with the NHL Department of Player Safety after the Maple Leafs center cross-checked Jake DeBrusk in the face during Boston’s 4-1 win over Toronto in Game 2 at TD Garden.
DeBrusk and Kadri had been going at each other for the entire game with temperatures rising in both players, but the Leafs center finally lost it after watching DeBrusk throw a hit on Patrick Marleau at the stanchion near the Bruins bench. Kadri then skated over to DeBrusk away from the play and blatantly cross-checked DeBrusk in the head before driving him to the ice in a dirty, dangerous play.
After the game, the Leafs hid Kadri away from the media without any comment and a somewhat dazed DeBrusk mostly wanted to avoid comment about the incident.
“First [altercation, was a] scrum on the wall. Two guys going at it. I thought second period, I believe it was Jake hit Kadri [leg-on-leg], but I thought it was clean. Looking back at it, it was shoulder to shoulder. Obviously, Kadri stayed down and that’s his prerogative when he gets hit,” said Bruce Cassidy. “And the last one, I don’t know if it was an altercation. I think he came over and cross checked [DeBrusk] in the face. I assume that would be dealt with or looked at [by NHL Player Safety] and go from there.”
DeBrusk also addressed the “leg-on-leg” hit in the second period where it appeared he was trying to throw a shoulder hit and Kadri went flying after trying to sidestep the hit at the last second, and affirmed that he “is not a dirty player.” The NHL would certainly seem to be backing him up with no penalty on the play, and no follow-up from the NHL Department of Player Safety involving the collision.
“I think that’s up to the league to decide to be honest. It’s kind of a blur to be honest,” said DeBrusk, who appeared a bit dazed after the game and said he’d undergone some tests to determine if he was injured. “I think it was, from what I remember, it was... it was high. I felt it in my face. Yeah, that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”
Kadri was suspended for three games last spring for his hit on a vulnerable Wingels into the boards, and his status as a repeat playoff offender along with the dangerous nature of the incident certainly got the NHL’s attention in the worst way possible. The in-game hearing means that the league is considering a suspension of longer than five games for the Maple Leafs agitator, and that would effectively leave him disqualified for the rest of the playoff series against the Bruins.
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