Predators forward Jordin Tootoo suspended two games for crashing into Miller

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Jordin Tootoo is the first player to be punished under the NHL’s crackdown on contact involving goaltenders.

The Nashville Predators forward was suspended two games Tuesday following a collision with Buffalo’s Ryan Miller on Saturday night. Tootoo was racing hard to the goal and had the puck knocked off his stick before hammering Miller.

“The fact remains that it is the attacking player’s responsibility to make a better effort not to crash directly into the opposing goaltender,” said NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. “The goaltender must feel protected in his crease.”

It was an unpunished hit on Miller last month that prompted calls for more goaltender safety. Shanahan elected not to suspend Bruins forward Milan Lucic for a hit on the Sabres goalie outside of his crease on Nov. 12, but heard from general managers afterwards that the majority were in favour of punishing such infractions.

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In Shanahan’s video explaining the Tootoo suspension, he notes that the player looked up and saw Miller before crashing into him and actually made the contact worse by jumping as he entered the crease. He also noted that Sabres defenceman Christian Ehrhoff had a role in the play.

“Although Ehrhoff does make body contact, we did not feel that it was significant enough that it altered Tootoo’s path into Ryan Miller,” said Shanahan.

The fine will cost Tootoo US$13,513.52 in salary. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Tootoo is eligible to return to Nashville’s lineup Dec. 10 against Anaheim.