St. Louis Blues forward Chris Stewart spoke to reporters today for the first time since being suspended for hitting Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall. Stewart, who will miss St. Louis’ next three games, addressed the media after today’s morning skate. (From NHL.com)
“When in doubt, you probably shouldn’t do it when you see his numbers to you,” Stewart said. “There’s definitely a gray area there. I was obviously hoping for no suspension, but I kind of expected it. I’ve seen a couple replays. It looked pretty bad.
“I’m probably going to think twice the next time I see a guy’s numbers to me.”
Stewart’s teammate, David Backes, also spoke with reporters about the hit. After initially tip-toeing around the idea of Stewart getting suspended — “[Stewart] has never been suspended before, never had a hearing before. Kronwall looks injured on the play, but he comes back,” he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch — Backes sounded much more accepting of the decision.
“It’s those kinds of hits that he said as a League we’re going to have taken out,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s a guy on our team that’s the recipient of a suspension. I think he’s [Shanahan’s] been relatively consistent throughout the season on hits that are into the boards or hits from the backside.”
For what it’s worth, the Blues have been unfailingly polite regarding this situation. (As a Canadian, I notice these things. We revere politeness.) Stewart and Backes were almost complimentary of Shanahan’s handling and decision-making while Blues GM Doug Armstrong issued a statement on the team’s website, saying “we respect the decision by Brendan and the National Hockey League as they continue to enforce the safety of all players during our games.”