The NHL has suspended Canucks rookie Jake Virtanen two games for his blindside hit on Sharks defenceman Roman Polak last night.
Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen suspended two games for interference on San Jose’s Roman Polak. Video: https://t.co/TSMNfXW9wD
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 30, 2016
The hit was late and from the blind-side, but it was shoulder-to-shoulder. Polak was not injured on the play, although it is still the type of hit the NHL wants to remove from the game.
Virtanen was assessed a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for interference.
“I was backchecking and I saw Polak move the puck, and I just wanted to finish my check” said Virtanen post-game. “It ended up being a little bit late, but it was shoulder-to-shoulder I thought. It wasn’t to the head or anything, but a little bit late.”
It was late, and that’s the biggest reason the NHL came down hard on Virtanen.
“What elevates this hit to merit supplemental discipline is its extreme lateness and the predatory nature of the hit” said the mysterious voice in NHL Department of Player Safety video. “Polak has no reason to anticipate being hit this long after moving the puck.”
This is the first time that Virtanen has been suspended in his young NHL career. He’d better be careful going forward, as the NHL has been known to come down harder on players that have been suspended before.
Virtanen will miss Thursday’s rematch against the Sharks in San Jose, as well as Friday’s encounter against the Anaheim Ducks.