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Ryan Johansen Suspended for Two Games

It's the right thing for the game, but it's going to hurt.

Minnesota Wild v Nashville Predators Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Per a statement from the NHL:

NEW YORK (Jan. 18, 2019) – Nashville Predators forward Ryan Johansen has been suspended for two games, without pay, for high-sticking Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele during NHL Game No. 730 in Nashville on Thursday, Jan. 17, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.

The incident occurred at 16:28 of the first period. Johansen was assessed a minor penalty for high-sticking.

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, Johansen will forfeit $86,021.50. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

For a full explanation of the decision, complete with video, please click on the following link:

While the loss of their 1C will hurt the Predators, it’s very important for the safety of the players and the quality of the game that the NHL continue to disincentivize head contact, and this is a good step in that direction.

The standard is that a player is responsible for their stick at all times. Johansen’s stick made significant contact with Scheifele’s head. What’s worse, there is a much stronger argument to be made that it was intentional than that it wasn’t—if so, that’s a play that has no place in the game.

Fortunately, Scheifele seems to be okay after the incident, but that doesn’t change the justice of handing out a suspension based on behavior instead of on results. If the NHL truly does care about the health and well-being of the men playing in their league now and the children growing up dreaming of doing the same, it’s long past time to start sending this kind of message.

In more immediate terms, Johansen will miss Saturday’s home game against the Florida Panthers and Monday’s road game against the Colorado Avalanche. He is eligible to return for Wednesday’s road game against the Vegas Golden Knights.

While Johansen serves his suspension, Colton Sissons might see 1C duty again. Sissons is in the middle of a career offensive season and has been used flexibly by Peter Laviolette. If Kyle Turris recovers from his current injury and is able to join the team, he could step in instead—that’s the less fun reason why the Predators traded for him in the first place—but that doesn't seem particularly likely. Nick Bonino might also get the call, but he's been used in more of a defensive capacity this year, and I'm not sure Laviolette will want to change that.