The National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety has just handed down a multi-game suspension and it's one that is likely going to cause a great deal of debate on both sides of the argument.
According to an official announcement form NHL Player Safety, they have suspended Boston Bruins veteran forward David Backes for a total of three games following a late hit that left Detroit Red Wings veteran forward Frans Nielsen badly shaken up on the play.
The hit occurred in the final seconds of the first period and while it seemed like Backes could have pulled up considering that the puck was long gone, the hit itself didn't seem particularly dirty. The end result however was Nielsen laying down flat on the ice, and it took him several long moments t o get up.
Again while it's true that the hit from Backes came in late his shoulder appeared to catch Nielsen square in the chest but the reaction from Nielsen after the fact was so delayed, and so over the top, that my initial thought was that Nielsen had attempted one of the worst dives of the season in order to draw a penalty on Backes.
Unfortunately once Nielsen remained down on the ice long after the trainer had come to check on his condition, it became readily apparent that he had in fact been genuinely injured on the play and was in no way faking his injury.
While it's understandable that the NHL has decided to suspend Backes for what did appear to be a late hit that led to an injury, there are many who will argue the fact that the hit, which appeared to be a shoulder to body type of hit, did not warrant three games of suspension.
Boston Bruins insider Joe Haggerty has already expressed his disbelief at the decision from the National Hockey League on this matter.
"David Backes suspended for three games for that hit on Frans Nielsen from last night. Never saw a damning replay where he did anything egregious. No prior record. Not going to lie. I don't get this one at all," wrote Haggerty.
Now to be fair to the National Hockey League they do have access to additional replays, one of which has been included in their explanation of their decision to suspend Backes for three games. On that additional replay it does appear that the follow through of the hit does catch Nielsen under the chin as Nielsen is tucking his head to absorb the impact.
This would explain Nielsen's reaction to the blow, a reaction that upon initial viewing appeared to be suspect, and it also makes the fact that the hit was late much more egregious. It also serves to explain why Nielsen has already been ruled out of the next two games by the Red Wings organization, something that may have led to the increased discipline from the NHL.
There's no doubt that Red Wings' fans will feel the hit warranted the full three games, and there's also very little doubt that fans in Boston will feel that Backes was punished to harshly for a late hit. We looked forward to the debate in the comment section below.