Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin threw a controversial hit Saturday evening that injured Arizona Coyotes center Boyd Gordon and earned Muzzin a match penalty that could carry an automatic suspension. However, the league could rescind the match penalty to Muzzin.
The NHL recently rescinded a match penalty to Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson and will have to decide how to react to another assessed to Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin following a controversial hit Saturday evening in Arizona.
While killing a penalty in the third period of Saturday’s game, Coyotes center Boyd Gordon was attempting to clear an airborne puck out of the Arizona end. However, as the puck came to the ice, Gordon crouched to swipe at the puck with his glove. At the same moment Gordon was crouching, Muzzin attempted to separate Gordon from the puck.
Because of Gordon crouching, his head was right at hip level for Muzzin, who was approaching as if to throw a hip check. The result was Gordon’s head whipping back in ugly fashion and needing help from the Coyotes training staff. Muzzin headed for the dressing room and ended his night early thanks to the match penalty:
Per the NHL rulebook, match penalties are assessed when a player “deliberately attempts to injure or who deliberately injures an opponent in any manner.” On top of the penalty that’s assessed, the offending player “shall be automatically suspended from further competition until the Commissioner has ruled on the issue.”
Muzzin’s hit caused injury, of that there is no doubt, but it doesn’t appear intentional. Muzzin hits Gordon in the head because of his attempt to clear the puck while in a crouched position, and it likely would have only been a bump between the two players had Gordon stayed upright.
“Whatever (the league has) got to do, they’ve got to do,” Muzzin told LAKingsInsider’s Jon Rosen post-game. “But I didn’t intentionally go and hit him in the head. I think you can see it, but I didn’t know, obviously, that he was going to drop and take a knee like that.”
In all likelihood, the Kings will know Muzzin’s fate ahed of their Monday contest against the Vancouver Canucks.