Kings’ Gilbert gets three-game ban for boarding and injuring Ducks’ Ritchie

The Los Angeles Kings’ top three defenders are already taking on big minutes, and they’ve got more work headed their way after Tom Gilbert earned himself a three-game suspension.

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Tom Gilbert went a decade with a fine as the only blemish on his record with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, but his first time being suspended by the league’s disciplinarians will see him sidelined for three games.

Gilbert, 33, received the three-game ban following a hearing Thursday regarding a hit he delivered on Ducks winger Nick Ritchie. As Ritchie tipped the puck into the Los Angeles zone late in the second period of Tuesday’s game, he was closed on by Gilbert and driven into the boards from behind.

No penalty was initially called on the hit, but Gilbert was summoned for a hearing following the league’s review of the play and suspended after the Department of Player Safety determined the hit was delivered illegally and with “significant force.”

“Gilbert not only finishes Ritchie through the back, he does so with significant force, coming off the ice through contact as he explodes into this hit,” the Department of Player Safety said in the suspension video.

The hit caused Ritchie’s head to bounce off the glass, and Ritchie was forced to leave the game. No update has been given on his status, and Randy Carlyle said only that Ritchie was still being assessed by doctors ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, according to the Ducks’ website. The injury suffered by Ritchie factored into the length of Gilbert’s ban.

Gilbert’s suspension will cost him a total of $23,333.34, all of which will go the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund, but the impact of the suspension goes beyond Gilbert’s wallet getting lighter and having to sit out three games.

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With Gilbert on the sideline, the next few outings are going to get that much busier for the Kings’ blueline trio of Drew Doughty, Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin

Already, the three blueliners are each averaging more than 23 minutes per game with Doughty flirting with nearly 28 minutes of ice time per contest, and an arm injury to Brayden McNabb and the suspension to Gilbert means even more minutes could be coming to the top three defenders. Los Angeles does have other options, of course, but coach Darryl Sutter hasn’t shown much faith in his blueline’s depth this season. 

Through 10 games, Matt Greene has been a healthy scratch six times and has averaged little more than 13 minutes per game when in the lineup and Derek Forbort is averaging less than 13 minutes per game even though he’s suited up in every game. That said, the Kings did reach into the AHL to help for the time being.

It was announced Thursday afternoon that 24-year-old Kevin Gravel, who suited up in five games for Los Angeles in 2015-16 and has spent the past three years with the organization, has been brought up from the AHL’s Ontario Reign. Gravel

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