The Winnipeg Jets will be without one of their top players for the bulk of their second-round series with the Montreal Canadiens. And for good reason, too.
On Thursday evening, the NHL Department of Player Safety announced that they have suspended Jets forward, Mark Schiefele for four games for his dangerous hit to the head of Montreal's Jake Evans. The hit, which occurred shortly after Evans scored an empty-net goal to secure the Canadiens' game-one victory late in the third period, left the forward lying motionless on the ice before eventually being taken off on a stretcher. Evans was reportedly taken back to the Canadiens' hotel and is "doing fine" and "alert", according to John Shannon. Thankfully, it appears as if he narrowly avoided serious injury.
This suspension serves as the first of Schiefele's eight-year NHL career. Such a dirty hit to the head of an unassuming opponent seems so far outside of his usual character, and yet, should not diminish the seriousness of what Schiefele did.
The Jets already face the monumental task of erasing a 1-0 series deficit with two games in hostile territory on the docket following game two. That would be difficult enough on its own. Now, however, they will be forced to claw their way back without arguably their best forward – Nikolai Ehlers might have something to say about that – thanks to a completely unnecessary cheap shot with the game already wrapped up.
Rather than shouldering the sting of defeat and channeling that fire into a dominant response in game two, Schiefele took matters into his own hands in what amounted to a selfish pursuit of revenge, ultimately leaving his team at a distinct disadvantage.