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Charlie Coyle Hit on Matt Stajan: Should He Be Suspended?

Time for the Department of Player Safety Jokes to do a set.


At the 14:52 mark of the second period, the Minnesota Wild's Charlie Coyle was given a five minute major for elbowing against the Calgary Flames' Matt Stajan. To be sure, the call on the ice was not the correct one, as Coyle's elbow was not even close to being involved. That said, it is likely going to come down to which side of the fence you fall on. Our bet is that Wild fans will say no and Flames fans will say yes, but we ask the question:

Is this a suspension, and if so, for how long?

Here is video from @FELS0096:

From the full video, contact is actually made with the head, the question becomes to what extent. Rule 48 reads:

48.1 Illegal Check to the Head - A hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted. However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was avoidable, can be considered.

Was the head the "principle point of contact?" Was Stajan's head "targeted?" This is where the rule goes off the track for me. How do you know? Those are subjective characteristics of a hit, and determine intent. Intent is something you simply cannot ascertain without getting inside a player's head.

The hit was certainly late, and should not have been laid. Stajan does not "put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit." Was it an "otherwise legal body check?" Since it was late, it is interference, so no, it is not.

The Law & Order twist is that Stajan clearly sold this hit like he wanted to beat out Daniel Day-Lewis after the fact. The head snap is classic "embellishment," as the NHL calls it, or a flat out European soccer dive worthy of a Peter Forsberg award to the rest of us. He returned for the third period no worse for wear, and missed only the mandated time to be in the "quiet room" to assess concussions.

The Short Version

Stajan sold this hit, but Coyle's hit was illegal. This is a situation where I can't say what the Department of Player Safety Jokes is going to do. In the past, if the guy being hit missed no time, the league has been reluctant to suspend. The acting job also doesn't help Stajan's case.

My guess is Coyle will not be suspended. Just to prove a point, he may be fined, however.

Of course, with the Wheel of Justice back in full glory, Shanahan likely suspends Coyle for a year and spits in his face as he does it.

You make the call. Suspension worthy?