Minnesota Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck has seemingly avoided a major injury after taking a lethal knee-on-knee hit from Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall Thursday night, but Hall won’t be avoiding suspension.
The NHL announced a two-game ban for Hall, the first of his young career, after a vicious hit on Clutterbuck in Thursday’s 3-1 Minnesota win in Edmonton. Hall, who has given a major penalty and game misconduct for kneeing, led with his knee and applied a punishing hit to Clutterbuck, who was moving away from the puck when Hall hit him near center ice. Clutterbuck had to be helped off the ice and couldn’t put any weight on his left leg.
“Although this play happens quickly, Hall is in control of himself and in control of this hit,” said Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s senior vice president of player safety in a video released by the league. “He makes the decision to step up and deliver a low check on a player who is not engaged with him whatsoever.”
Wild coach Mike Yeo said Friday that Clutterbuck suffered a thigh contusion the play. Minnesota is still waiting for further test results, but it seems like Clutterbuck has dodged a more serious injury.
Clutterbuck didn’t want to go into much detail about his feelings on the hit or the intent of Hall, only saying, “I don’t think it was clean, no.”
“I will say that I didn’t like it,” Yeo said of the hit. “I didn’t think the puck was there. That to me is the biggest issue about it . . . The league’s going to take care of it.”
And the league did, assessing Hall, the first overall pick in the 2010 draft, the two-game suspension.
“Aside from the knee contact itself, one of contributing factors that elevate this kneeing penalty to a suspension is the fact that at no point does Clutterbuck control the puck, have possession of the puck or have any reasonable expectation of contact in this situation,” Shanahan said in the video.
Clutterbuck took exception to the hit.
“I think it’s a little reckless,” Clutterbuck said, speaking after the team’s skate Friday in Calgary. “I’ve been in that situation a lot of times personally, so I know that there’s a fine line between milliseconds and split seconds. Personally, I probably wouldn’t put myself in that situation. But, you know, he made a decision, was probably a little frustrated with the way the game was going. He made a decision and here we are.”
Clutterbuck was on crutches Friday, still avoiding putting much weight on the leg. Yeo told the team’s website that there is no timetable for his return. Clutterbuck is out for Saturday’s game at Calgary and is considered day-to-day. Yeo said he’s hopeful the injury is nothing more than a contusion, but the team is still waiting for more information. The coach said the MRI machine in Edmonton was not working after the game and that the Wild believe, for now, that there’s no issue with Clutterbuck’s knee.
“We’re thinking it’s above the knee,” Yeo said.
Clutterbuck said Hall hasn’t reached out to him since the hit. Hall, coincidentally, was also responsible for a play earlier this season in the American Hockey League in which Minnesota defenseman Jonas Brodin broke his clavicle after taking a hit from Hall.
Clutterbuck is known for his physical play, leading the league in hits last season with 336. He leads the team with 49 hits this season, but Clutterbuck has never been suspended or fined in his NHL career and he disputed some reports that have called him a reckless player.
“Yeah, show me a reckless play that I’ve created,” Clutterbuck said. “I don’t agree with that. That’s just the way it is. That’s just people’s perception. It’s unfortunate, obviously, but I’m a big boy.”
With the injury to Clutterbuck, Minnesota recalled forward Charlie Coyle from the Houston Aeros of the AHL and reassigned forward Johan Larsson to Houston.
Yeo said the team recalled Coyle to get another right-handed shot in the lineup.
“I thought Larss did a really good job the game that he played, but obviously Clutter being out is a right shot and Charlie did a good job when he was up here as well, so let’s get him up here,” the coach said.
Coyle, 20, made his NHL debut earlier this season. He played in five games and had six shots, going without a point. He has 14 goals and 11 assists in 47 games for Houston. Larsson, 20, had two shots in his one game for the Wild, making his NHL debut on Feb. 17. He was scratched for Thursday’s game in Edmonton.
FOX Sports North’s Sarah Servetnick contributed to this report.