For most of his 11-year NHL career, Capitals defenseman John Erskine played hard but by the book.
On Friday night he crossed that fine line between aggressiveness and recklessness when he rammed his right elbow into the face of Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds.
On Saturday, NHL director of player safety Brendan Shanahan handed Eskine the first suspension of his NHL career, suspending him for three games. Click here for the video of his explanation .
Erskine will lose $24,324.33 of salary and will be forced to sit out Sunday’s game against the Penguins, Tuesday’s game against the Maple Leafs and Thursday’s game against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.
Erskine was not made available for comment.
The incident occurred at the 18:09 mark of the first period, No penalty was called on the play and Simmonds was unable to return to the game. Simmonds also sat out Saturday night’s game in Carolina.
In a video explaining his ruling, Shanahan described the play by saying Erskine “recklessly” elbowed Simmonds while both were pursuing a “50-50” puck.
“When Erskine realizes he is going to get beat, he tries to get a piece of his opponent to prevent an outnumbered rush. However, in doing so he raises his elbow, striking Simmonds in the face. This is elbowing.
"As the two men approach the puck, Erskine looks up and clearly is aware of Simmonds' proximity before delivering the illegal hit. While we acknowledge there was no malicious intent and that Erskine was reacting to getting beat, this nevertheless is a reckless elbow to the head that caused a serious injury.
"To summarize, this was elbow. Erskine is not a repeat offender. Simmonds was injured as a result of the hit and was unable to return to the game.
"The department of player safety has decided to suspend John Erskine for three games."
The penalty seems reasonable considering the NHL’s crackdown on all blows to the head. Your thoughts?