Michal Rozsival

Brown gets one-game suspension for kneeing Sergachev

17 Comments

Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang

Earlier today, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that they wanted to talk to Kings forward Dustin Brown for an incident that took place in last night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown received a major penalty and a game misconduct for kneeing Bolts defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (top). Tonight, the league announced that they’ve decided to suspend Brown for one game.

But is sitting him down for one game enough of a punishment?

Let’s keep in mind that he didn’t miss all of Saturday’s game, but he was tossed at the 14:30 mark of the second period. So he missed less than half the game.

Although he’s not a repeat offender in the league’s eyes, this isn’t the first time that Brown has crossed the line on the ice. Heck, this isn’t even the first time he’s used his knee to inflict pain on an opponent. In the 2012 playoffs, he injured Coyotes defenseman Michal Rozsival on a similar play.

Obviously, this incident happened almost six years ago, so it doesn’t factor into this suspension, but how many more dangerous plays is the Kings forward going to make before the league decides to send him a clear message.

As the league mentioned in their explanation of the suspension, Brown had “sufficient time to attempt a legal, full body hit, or allow Sergachev to pass by him untouched. Instead, he extends his knee to ensure contact will be made”. At this point, the league has hit the nail right on the head with their wording. This is clearly something the veteran could have avoided.

But here’s where the league’s wording gets kind of questionable: “And while we do not believe that this is a malicious or planned attempt to injure an opponent, the onus remains on the hitter to deliver a legal check.”

It may not have been pre-meditated because it happened in a split-second, but what exactly was Brown trying to do? That’s an incredibly dangerous play. Sergachev, who managed to return to the game, could’ve been seriously hurt.

George Parros did well to suspend Alex Burrows 10 games for kneeing Taylor Hall in the head repeatedly last week. That type of punishment definitely sent a message to Burrows and the rest of the league. Unfortunately, you can’t help but feel like this incident involving Brown is a “swing and a miss” for the Department of Player Safety.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Blackhawks place Rozsival on long-term injured reserve

Getty
2 Comments

Michal Rozsival has been placed on long-term injured reserve, the Chicago Blackhawks announced Monday.

The news comes weeks after Rozsival failed his physical at the beginning of training camp.

Rozsival was sucker punched by Anaheim Ducks forward Nick Ritchie late last season, and his agent has told The Athletic that Rozsival is still dealing with post-concussion symptoms.

With this move, the Blackhawks roster is down to 27 players — 16 forwards, eight defensemen and three goalies. Rozsival was entering a one-year deal with a cap hit of $650,000, per CapFriendly.

The Blackhawks, as of Monday evening, were still awaiting word from the NHL on whether Marian Hossa, who underwent an independent medical exam, will be eligible for LTIR.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, Horton and Lupul fail Maple Leafs physicals

Getty
3 Comments

When it comes to NHL players failing physicals, expected news can still be sad news.

It’s unfortunate – though maybe for the best – that Clarke MacArthur failed his physical with the Ottawa Senators. A long run, with some great moments with the same Chicago Blackhawks, might be over for Michal Rozsival after failing his.

Even ones that feel like formalities are a drag because we’re reminded of what once was, and perhaps what could have been had these players stayed even reasonably healthy.

So, it’s not surprising that Joffrey Lupul and Nathan Horton failed their Toronto Maple Leafs physicals, as Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported. Both cases are unfortunate nonetheless.

Lupul, 33, stated that he wanted to continue his career when it was clear he’d enter the 2016-17 season on injured reserve. His $5.25 million cap hit expires after this coming season.

If this is it for Lupul, he can look back at multiple 20+ goal seasons and two strong playoff runs during his career.

Horton, 32, will see his $5.3M cap hit expire in three seasons. He won a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins and enjoyed some strong years as a power forward, yet he barely suited up for the Columbus Blue Jackets team that signed him to his mammoth contract and was traded to Toronto in a bizarre swap of cap hits (David Clarkson, his spiritual salary cap sibling, went to Columbus).

In a strange twist, both forwards look like they’ll finish their careers with nearly identical point totals; Lupul is at 420 while Horton scored 421.

Michal Rozsival sidelined at start of camp after failing physical

Getty
3 Comments

Michal Rozsival is attempting to return for his 17th season in the NHL, but it is not off to a promising start.

Rozsival, starting his sixth season with the Chicago Blackhawks, did not pass his physical at the start of training camp on Friday and is not able to participate at this time, according to general manager Stan Bowman.

Last week Rozsival’s agent told The Athletic that the veteran defenseman is still dealing with post-concussion symptoms after he was sucker-punched by Anaheim Ducks forward Nick Ritchie back in April.

Ritchie was suspended two games for the punch. Rozsival needed surgery to repair injuries to his face.

Rozsival, who just turned 39 earlier this month, appeared in 22 games for the Blackhawks a year ago, scoring one goal and adding two assists.

He has appeared in 963 games in his career and been a part of two Stanley Cup winning teams with the Blackhawks.

Plenty of opportunity on revamped Blackhawks defense

Getty
4 Comments

For almost a decade, Niklas Hjalmarsson was a mainstay on the Blackhawks’ back end, quietly providing some of the most effective defense in the league.

But with Hjalmarsson in Arizona now, traded to the Coyotes for the younger-though-less-proven Connor Murphy, it remains to be seen how Chicago’s blue line will roll out next season.

In addition to Hjalmarsson, the ‘Hawks also bid adieu to Brian Campbell, Johnny Oduya, and Trevor van Riemsdyk this offseason.

Add up all the good-byes, and that’s a lot of minutes to replace.

“We’re going to see when we’re putting the pairs together, whether we’re going to reunite [Duncan Keith] and [Brent Seabrook] or look for some balance,” head coach Joel Quenneville said, per CSN Chicago. “There are a lot of options. We’ll look forward to that and sorting it out.”

The way it looks right now, the top four will be comprised of Keith, Seabrook, Murphy, and Michal Kempny. That’s two left shots — Keith and Kempny — and two righties — Seabrook and Murphy.

Read more: After major changes, Bowman thinks Blackhawks are in ‘good spot’

The bottom pairing, though, is anyone’s guess. Newly signed Czech defenseman Jan Rutta is in the mix. But so too are Jordan Oesterle, Gustav Forsling, Ville Pokka, Erik Gustafsson, Viktor Svedberg, and possibly even Luc Snuggerud.

Once training camp starts, it’ll be up to those young players to prove themselves.

“Just the amount of opportunity that is in front of me just drives me even more,” said Oesterle, whom the ‘Hawks signed July 1. “I want to be here and force their hand to keep me here.”

Veteran Michal Rozsival is also under contract for next season. However, he turns 39 in September, and with all that youth champing at the bit, the Blackhawks will be hoping they won’t need him much, if at all.

Chicago’s defense in 2016-17, ranked by total time on ice