Ottawa Senators defenseman Eric Gryba was suspended for two games by the NHL on Friday for his crushing hit to head on Montreal Canadiens center Lars Eller in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
Gryba caught Eller with his head down at the Montreal blue line Thursday night in the second period of the Senators’ 4-2 victory. Eller crashed face-first to the ice, and was bleeding heavily as he was taken from the Bell Centre ice on a stretcher. He sustained a concussion and facial and dental injuries.
Elller was released from the hospital Friday and was resting at home.
”We do not see malicious intent by Gryba on this play,” Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s senior vice president of hockey operations and player safety, said in a video posted on the league’s website. ”Eller is eligible to be checked and Gryba does not extend an elbow or launch into the head.
”However, Gryba’s route is not correct and we do not feel that he makes enough of a full body check for this hit not to qualify as an illegal check to the head. In our view, in attempting this very difficult check, Gryba does not hit squarely enough through the body. Eller’s head is the principle point of contact and the subsequent contact to Eller’s right shoulder is secondary.”