The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has suspended Dallas Stars defenseman Jason Demers two games for his elbow to the head of Nick Bonino during Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Bonino skated with the Penguins Friday and could play Saturday.
Demers’ elbow on Bonino occurred late in Thursday’s contest between the Stars and Penguins. With the Stars up 4-1 over the Penguins in the third period, Bonino came towards Demers, who was chasing a loose puck into the corner following an empty-net attempt. As Bonino came near, Demers lunged backwards with his body and caught Bonino in the face with an elbow:
In the video explaining the suspension, Department of Player Safety director Patrick Burke said it was the “reckless nature” of Demers’ elbowing penalty that warranted the suspension.
“Demers clearly looks over his right shoulder and sees Bonino coming with time to perform any number of evasive or protective maneuvers,” Burke said. “Demers takes his bottom hand off his stick and throws an elbow in a way that cannot be considered reflexive or defensive.”
Following Thursday’s game, Demers said he was attempting to ward off the check from Bonino when he delivered the elbow.
“I just went in and tried to counter the hit a little bit too early,” Demers said, via The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Seth Rorabaugh. “I hope he’s all right. I wasn’t intending to hit him in the head or anything like that.”
As part of his two-game ban, Demers will lose $36,559 which will be deposited to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
Bonino didn’t suffer a serious injury on the play and skated with the Penguins in practice Friday. There has been no official word on Bonino’s status for Saturday’s game, however, when the Penguins take on the Nashville Predators.
“So far the head feels pretty good,” Bonino told Rorabaugh Friday. “Face is sore I think, the jaw a little bit. Been hit in the head before. Hopefully not lasting, lingering stuff.”