Washington Capitals defenseman John Erskine has been suspended for three games by the NHL for elbowing Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds during the first period of Friday's 3-2 win.
With less than two minutes remaining in the first period, Erskine and Simmonds were pursuing a loose puck when the former raised his elbow, making contact with the latter's head. No penalty was assessed on the play, but Simmonds was slow to get up and did not return to the game. Erskine was not made available for comment after Friday's game or Saturday's practice, but Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette shared his thoughts on the hit.
“It looked dirty when I first saw it,” Laviolette said. “Tough hit.”
The league obviously agreed with Laviolette, handing Erskine his first career suspension. Below is the NHL's explanation, made by head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan.
“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,” Shanahan said.
Simmonds suffered a head injury and is not in the lineup for the Flyers Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Erskine will be eligible to return next Saturday, Feb. 9, against the Florida Panthers.
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.