The Department of Player Safety has fined league-leading points scorer Connor McDavid $5,000 following his high-hit on Montreal Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi. The DOPS announced McDavid’s fine, which is the maximum allowable under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, on Wednesday.
Edmonton’s Connor McDavid has been fined $5,000, the maximum allowable under the CBA, for Elbowing Montreal’s Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 31, 2021
Connor McDavid Fined For Elbowing
McDavid elbowed Jesperi Kotkaniemi in the face during the first period of the Oilers’ loss to the Canadiens on Tuesday. Kotkaniemi entered the neutral zone as the puck carrier but quickly dished a back-handed pass over to Paul Byron to continue the rush. After Kotkaniemi released the puck, McDavid, who had been chasing after him, continued to charge and delivered a high-hitting cheap shot. At the time, the in-game officials assessed McDavid with a two-minute minor penalty for roughing.
connor mcdavid woke up and chose violence today pic.twitter.com/sVrwBen64j
— zach laing (@zjlaing) March 30, 2021
This reaction from the Oilers star centre was clearly out of frustration. In the lead-up to the hit, Kotkaniemi hooked McDavid from behind in the neutral zone, which went unpunished. What’s more, Montreal led 3-0 when the infringement occurred.
Luckily, the hit did not seriously injure Kotkaniemi, whose goal inside 18 seconds ended up counting as the game-winner. Montreal won 4-0 in their first game back after a nine-day COVID-19 pause. With the victory, the Canadiens now trail the third-placed Oilers by six points with five games in hand.
What This Means Going Forward
Ultimately, McDavid was lucky to escape without a hearing in this instance. He has had one previous run-in with the DOPS. In 2019, he received a two-game suspension for an illegal check to the head-on defenseman Nick Leddy.
Although, this whole scenario will lead to further discussions surrounding officiating and subsequent punishment.
After all, the recent hot-mic incident, which exposed the prevalence of game management in hockey, also raised questions on how star players suffer as a result of limiting penalties. While McDavid is completely at fault for his actions, which cannot be defended, it is highly likely that the frustration with how he is officiated might have factored into his outburst.
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