By Allan Muir
The New York Rangers will be down at least one forward for the next 10 games.
Daniel Carcillo has been automatically suspended as a result of being assessed a game misconduct penalty under Rule 40.3 (Physical Abuse of Officials -- Category II) during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final on Thursday night.
The rule reads that "any player who deliberately applies physical force to an official in any manner...without intent to injure...shall be automatically suspended for not less than ten games."
Carcillo "applied physical force" on Scott Driscoll as the linesman was escorting him to the penalty box in the wake of a scrum.
It's a hefty sentence considering the level of contact, but there's not much room for interpretation here. Nor should there be. No matter what the Rangers say about the complicity of the officials in elevating the temperature of the game, there's no excusing Carcillo's actions.
He can ask Gary Bettman to have his suspension reduced, and it's expected that Carcillo will do just that. But don't expect the commish to be in a lenient mood. If there's one easily defendable line to be drawn in the sand, it's a determination to protect the safety of officials.
That's something to keep in mind whenever supplemental discipline is (or isn't) handed down to Montreal's Brandon Prust for his late hit on New York's Derek Stepan. Rangers fans will want to conflate the two sentences, but that's wrongheaded. While the damage caused by Prust was much more grievous, it was the result of a hockey play gone wrong. That sort of offense is bound to occur occasionally in an emotional high-speed contact game. Carcillo's meltdown was less dangerous but it showed serious disrespect for the integrity of the game. The punishment fits the crime.
Carcillo will become an unrestricted free agent after the season, so there's a good chance that this suspension effectively ends his brief stint with the Rangers.