By: Will Burchfield
After a lengthy hearing on Wednesday with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, Gustav Nyquist has been suspended six games for spearing Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon in the face during the Wild-Red Wings game on Feb. 12.
He will not be able to play again until March 4 versus the Oilers.
A suspension of this length is unsurprising given a) the viciousness of the offense, b) the league’s continuing crackdown on hits to the head, and c) the fact that Nyquist was originally offered an in-person hearing, which almost always translates to a suspension of at least six games.
For comparison’s sake, Chicago’s Duncan Keith was suspended six games last April for slashing Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle in the face.
On Monday, Nyquist waived his right to an in-person hearing, accepting a phone hearing instead. It began at 2 p.m. on Wednesday; a ruling wasn’t announced until well after 5:00.
Nyquist was harshly criticized within the hockey community in the wake of the incident, but the Red Wings stood behind him.
Said Jeff Blashill, via the Free Press, “I’ve known Nyqui for six-plus years — there’s no chance there was any intent. I’ve seen him in every possible situation.”
Said Henrik Zetterberg, “Everyone that stands here knows him better than that.”
Nyquist, for his part, claimed it was an accident.
“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…Obviously, I’ve got to have better control of my stick,” he said.
But it’s hard to argue with the evidence.
The Red Wings will likely turn to Tomas Jurco to take Nyquist’s spot in the lineup.