Vicious elbow hospitalizes Marlies’ Johnson, Devils’ Kelly likely facing suspension

Toronto Marlies winger Andreas Johnson was left momentarily motionless on the ice following a vicious headshot by Albany Devils defenseman Dan Kelly. Johnson was able to get off the ice with help from medical personnel and taken to a local hospital. He was released late Tuesday night.

The second-round Calder Cup playoff series between the Toronto Marlies and Albany Devils has been feisty. Through four games, the Marlies and Devils have traded wins and unpleasantries, leading to the teams combining for 136 penalty minutes in a series that is still at least two games away from deciding a winner.

But the aggressiveness between the two sides went too far in Tuesday’s Game 4. Midway through the second period of a game the Marlies were leading 3-1, Toronto winger Andreas Johnson collected a short pass from defenseman Connor Carrick and cut across the blueline. As Johnson turned his head to work his way into the Albany zone, he was met with a stiff elbow and forearm shot to the head from Devils defenseman Dan Kelly.

The result of the hit was frightening. Johnson, playing in only his second North American contest, was left laying flat on the ice, motionless, as the medical staff from the Marlies rushed onto the ice to attend to him:

Unsurprisingly, Johnson had to be helped off the ice and did not return to the game, while Kelly was handed a match penalty for checking to the head and a major for fighting after his ensuing scrap with Marlies winger Zach Hyman.

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Following the game, Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe spoke to media and said that Johnson was having trouble remembering the hit or anything that had happened following the blow to the head. According to the Toronto Sun’s Lance Hornby, Johnson didn’t know the Marlies medical staff when they were attempting to help him.

“That’s the worst kind of hit there is in the game today,” Keefe said post-game. “The league, I’m sure, is going to have a look at that. I know they’ve established precedent for a hit like that earlier in the season with a 12-game suspension. I suspect (Johnson) is going to be out of the series, and I suspect (Kelly) will be, as well, if not more than that.”

The 12-game suspension is speaking of came in December when Ontario Reign blueliner Kurtis MacDermid levelled San Diego Gulls winger Matt Bailey with a high hit. The hit was similar, but not the exact same, as Kelly’s hit on Johnson.

Johnson was released from hospital late Tuesday night, according to Hornby. No suspension has been announced for Kelly as of Wednesday morning, but it’s likely he’ll be hearing from the league ahead of Thursday’s Game 5.

(Video via Robert Soderlind/HockeyWebcast)