The Blackhawks entered Tuesday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes without the services of Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa, and there’s a chance Chicago will be without Artem Anisimov going forward, as well.
Anisimov, 27, was forced to leave midway through the contest after he was hit from behind by Coyotes center Antoine Vermette, who at this time last year was suiting up for the Blackhawks. Following a line change, Anisimov was chasing a loose puck into the Coyotes’ zone with Vermette giving chase. Anisimov pulled up and turned back towards the boards in an attempt to shake Vermette, but the Arizona pivot got a piece of Anisimov and sent him crashing headfirst into the boards:
It took Anisimov a few moments to gather himself but he was able to exit the ice with the help of training staff while Vermette was escorted to the penalty box. The officials working the contest deliberated for a short while before it was decided that Vermette’s hit was worthy of a game misconduct, and he was handed a major penalty and sent to the showers. Unsurprisingly, Anisimov didn’t return before the end of the period.
Whether or not Vermette has earned himself a suspension for the hit is hard to say, and it’ll be up to the Department of Player Safety to decide if the punishment already dished out by the officials — a game misconduct and major penalty during which the Blackhawks scored two power play goals — were subsequent enough for Vermette. In terms of intent, it’s evident there was no harm meant by Vermette, especially given his reaction immediately following the hit. There’s clear concern on his part for Anisimov. That said, the league can only take that into so much consideration.
One factor that could save Vermette from any supplemental discipline is Anisimov’s body positioning. The DOPS can take into account any sudden shifts or movement that can take some of the onus off of the hitter. Before he’s contacted by Vermette, Anisimov turns towards the boards. The change in body positioning makes what could have been a clean hit into the scary collision that occurred.
For what it’s worth, Vermette has never been suspended in his career. If he's suspended for this hit, it seems unlikely he would draw more than a one- or two-game ban.