The NHL’s department of player safety announced on Saturday afternoon that Columbus Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert will have a hearing later in the day for cross-checking Pittsburgh Penguins forward Tom Kuhnhackl in the closing seconds of Friday’s game.
With the Penguins leading 4-1 and on their way to taking a 2-0 series lead, Calvert randomly skated up behind Kuhnhackl and cross-checked him with such force that it broke his stick. Following the cross-check Calvert circled back and checked a still unsuspecting Kuhnhackl, knocking him to the ice. Calvert was only assessed a two-minute minor for cross-checking.
What happens next for Calvert is a lot of guesswork.
Cross-checking is an infraction that the NHL does tend to suspend for. The degree of the punishment tends to vary, however.
Since the department of player safety was formed at the start of the 2011-12 season there have been 10 suspensions issued for cross-checking. Seven of those suspensions were for more than one game, including five that went for three or more. One of those three-plus game bans came during the 2011-12 postseason when Arron Asham was given four games for a cross-checking incident in the first round. But, on the other hand, just one year ago Brandon Dubinsky was only given one regular season game for breaking his stick on a cross-check on Sidney Crosby.
Given the circumstances, including the time in the game (closing seconds of a three-goal game), the fact it was a random aggressive act on an unsuspecting player, and Calvert hitting him again after the initial cross-check it should probably result in a lengthy ban. Whether or not it does remains to be seen.