Bettman rejects Voracek’s appeal, upholds two-game suspension

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To little surprise, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman rejected Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek‘s appeal, thus upholding Voracek’s two-game suspension.

Voracek, 29, sought to appeal that suspension for an interference hit on New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk. Bettman’s ruling on the suspension revealed that Voracek and his reps were looking to reduce the suspension from two games to one.

Bettman provided his full reasoning in this one-page ruling, with this excerpt being the most noteworthy part:

(See the video above this post’s headline for the hit, and Voracek’s initial reactions.)

This was an unusual process in a few ways.

To start, there were some interesting events in the aftermath of the hit. Boychuk essentially vowed revenge on Voracek, prompting the Flyers winger to accuse Boychuk of cutting a pro wrestling promo on him.

“He’s pointing at me like it’s WrestleMania or something,” Voracek said after the game. “Come on, it’s a hockey game. This is a guy who was sucker-punching 19-year-old Nolan Patrick last year at the end of the game, and he’s going to do that. Give me a break.”

Then, when the league announced the two-game suspension, Voracek’s derision was palpable, and emoji-filled:

In the latest edition of “31 Thoughts,” Elliotte Friedman notes that it’s quite unusual for a player in Voracek’s position to appeal a suspension in the first place.

While larger suspensions can go to an independent arbitrator – who frequently reduce the length of suspensions – rulings like Voracek’s stop at Gary Bettman’s desk, so it was unlikely that this would go any further. Friedman wrote about how rare this is:

The last eight appeals this decade involved only one that ended up being fewer than 10 games. (That was Dan Carcillo’s 2014 playoff punishment for physical abuse of an official, shortened to six by Bettman.) I can find only one try for anything as low as Voracek’s two. That was Joe Thornton in November 2010, also trying to lift a two-game suspension — for a hit to the head of David Perron. He failed to move the needle, as Bettman upheld the original decision. So this is rare. In some ways, it is fitting the Flyers would be the ones to charge at the status quo.

Ultimately, that challenge was unsuccessful, as Voracek’s two-gamer stands.

Then again, maybe Voracek was doing this to send a message, although a successful appeal would have left him available for Thursday’s game against the Washington Capitals. Instead, he’ll have to settle for a return against the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Friday, after that two-game suspension runs its course.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Flyers’ Voracek to appeal two-game suspension

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Jakub Voracek’s feelings on being suspended two games by the NHL for his hit on New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk Saturday night were summed up in five simple emojis:

Voracek was assessed a major for interference. Boycuk did not return to the game and has been ruled out of the Islanders’ game on Monday against Columbus.

The Philadelphia Flyers forward is taking his displeasure with the Department of Player Safety one step forward by appealing the two-game ban, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. Voracek will travel to the NHL’s offices in New York City on Tuesday afternoon in hopes of having the suspension reduced to one game or wiped out entirely.

“He’s pointing at me like it’s WrestleMania or something,” Voracek said after the game. “Come on, it’s a hockey game. This is a guy who was sucker-punching 19-year-old Nolan Patrick last year at the end of the game, and he’s going to do that. Give me a break.”

“I don’t think Jake has any wrong intentions there. He’s trying to protect himself,” said Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon. “The guy is sprinting in on him hard. It’s not like it was a 50/50 puck, where he’s waiting for him to come to him and step into him. He clearly sees that the guy coming and he’s trying to brace himself.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will hear Voracek’s appeal. The process will stop after Bettman’s decision as only suspensions of six games or more allow the player to appeal to a neutral arbitrator.

Voracek will remain out through the duration of the two-game suspension as he appeals.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy

Sabres’ Eichel, Flyers’ Voracek get two-game suspensions

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The NHL handed out two-game suspensions to Jack Eichel and Jakub Voracek on Sunday.

Eichel’s suspension

In Eichel’s case, it was a high hit on Carl Soderberg from Saturday’s 3-0 win for the Colorado Avalanche against Eichel’s Buffalo Sabres. Eichel received a two-minute minor penalty for an illegal hit to the head during the game itself.

Here’s the league explanation for Eichel’s two-gamer:

Voracek is/was not happy

Meanwhile, Voracek received a five-minute major, and now this two-game suspension, for a hit on Johnny Boychuk from the Philadelphia Flyers’ 5-2 win against the New York Islanders on Saturday. (You can see the hit and more in the video above this post’s headline.)

After the game, Voracek had quite the comment for Boychuk, stemming in part from an incident between the Islanders defenseman and Nolan Patrick.

“He’s pointing at me like it’s WrestleMania or something,” Voracek said, via the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi. “Come on, it’s a hockey game. This is a guy who was sucker-punching 19-year-old Nolan Patrick last year at the end of the game, and he’s going to do that. Give me a break.”

Voracek’s response to the two-game suspension was similarly entertaining:

Maybe Voracek can team up with Gritty against Elias and Boychuk at “Wrestlemania?” There’s certainly some “heat” in the feud between Voracek and Boychuk, if you will.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Sabres’ Eichel, Flyers’ Voracek facing hearings after Saturday hits

Sportsnet
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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety will be busy on Sunday.

Forwards Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres and Jakub Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers will be asked to explain their actions in their respective games on Saturday after two massive hits.

Eichel’s came in the second period of a 3-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. He and Carl Soderberg were chasing down a loss puck in the neutral zone when Eichel took his shoulder and laid it square into Soderberg’s chin, forcing the latter to leave the game temporarily.

Eichel was given a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head on the play, which can be seen here around the one-minute mark:

Eichel had enough, he admitted after the game.

Nikita Zadorov drilled him in the first period (a hit you can see from the beginning of the above video) after an offside whistle had already been blown.

“He hits me after they (bleeping), excuse my language, blow the whistle,” Eichel told the Buffalo News following in the game. “That’s whatever.

“I thought he was just reaching. I don’t know. I’d have to look at it, to be honest with you. I’m trying to protect myself. It’s a physical game. I think he’s going to deliver a hit to me.

“It seems like they were taking runs a little bit at times. If I’m going to be at the forefront of it, I might as well push back a little bit. I’ve got to protect myself.”

Eichel has never been suspended.

Meanwhile, Voracek will have to answer for this bit of interference he threw on New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk in their game on Saturday.

In a 5-1 game for the Flyers, Boychuk was pinching in to try and snag a loose puck heading Voracek’s way. Instead, Voracek saw Boychuk coming and dropped him with hit, forcing Boychuk from the game and resulting in a five-minute major for interference.

You can be the judge here:

Voracek was far from pleased with the call following the game.

“The explanation I got was if I hit him in the head, it would be a game [misconduct],” he told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I don’t know why I got five. I try to protect myself, to be honest, maybe the puck was a little further than I thought — I thought the puck was close to me.

“It’s a tough hit. You know, he’s getting off the ice, he’s pointing at me like it’s a WrestleMania or something. Pointing at me like it’s a WrestleMania. Come on, it’s a hockey game. … He’s the guy that was sucker-punching 19-year-old Nolan Patrick last year in the end of a game. He’s going to do that? Give me a break.”

Voracek, like Eichel, has no history.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Islanders’ Boychuk vows retribution on Flyers’ Voracek after hit

Sportsnet
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Johnny Boychuk made a vow to Jakub Voracek as he was skating off the ice following a devastating interference hit from the latter on Saturday night in Long Island.

“I will get you,” he appeared to mouth at Voracek, who was already in the penalty box for his early third-period transgression.

Moments earlier, Boychuk was pinching in from the point to try and win a loose puck heading in Voracek’s direction. Boychuk never made it to the puck thanks to Voracek, who saw Boychuk coming and laid some nasty interference on him.

The hit itself appeared high and Boychuk’s left shoulder appeared to bounce off the ice, causing him to lay there for quite some time as held it, grimacing in pain.

You can see the hit here and Boychuk’s reaction once he was back up on his feet being helped off the ice.

Voracek was assessed a five-minute major for interference while Boychuk never returned to the game.

Scott Mayfield went after Voracek once his time in the sin bin was up, but it instant melee that ensued mean there was no retribution. Mayfield was handed 10-minute misconduct, rendering his night over with less than 10 minutes left in the game.

The hit was unnecessary at best, with the Flyers up 5-1 in a game they’d end up winning 5-2. Of course, the counterpoint to this is Boychuk was flying in Voracek’s direction and Voracek was just bracing for impact. Either way, there’s a good chance the league takes a look at this one, given the scenario and the injury, right?

Boychuk, providing he’s healthy, will have his chance to seek vegeance as these two teams play each other on March 23 in their final meeting of the season.

UPDATE:


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck