By: Will Burchfield
Here’s the explanation Gustav Nyquist offered for viciously spearing Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon in the face.
“I didn’t mean to do that. My stick gets caught, I am trying to get body position on him…I had no intention of doing that,” Nyquist said, via the Free Press. “Obviously, I’ve got to have better control of my stick.”
And here’s the defense coming out of the Red Wings’ locker room.
“Everyone that stands here knows him better than that,” said Henrik Zetterberg.
“I’ve known Nyqui for six-plus years — there’s no chance there was any intent,” said Jeff Blashill. “I’ve seen him in every possible situation. There is no chance there was any intent.”
Around the league, though, no one’s buying it.
The disgust stemmed from Mike Milbury and Keith Jones on NBC’s intermission report.
Said Milbury, (who, to be fair, doesn’t have much ground to stand on in terms of respecting the rule book), “This is intentful with malice, a forethought. He lost it. This guy just lost it…This is a five-game suspension, at least…The league has got to make it right. They’re trying to eliminate a lot of these brawls and fighting. This one a few years ago would have cleared the benches…They missed it.”
Said Jones, one of the most respected voices in the game, “The retaliation part is just awful. I mean, it was a minor cross-check to the back and the intent of Nyquist is a shame. You can’t do this. You would actually get beat to pulp if this happened a few seasons ago.”
It was around that time that Twitter got involved.
Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News refused to believe that Nyquist’s immediate remorse proved the play was an accident.
Nyquist was offered an in-person hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, which typically results in a suspension of at least six games. On Monday, he declined the in-person hearing, choosing instead to take part in a phone hearing scheduled for Wednesday.
Nyquist isn’t a dirty player. And one dirty play doesn’t change that. But it’s pretty clear he had a lapse in judgement on Sunday, and he’s likely to pay for it moving forward.