Anaheim Ducks winger Nate Thompson has played four games since returning from off-season shoulder surgery, but he’s about to get a three-game break. The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced Monday Thompson has been suspended for three games following an illegal check to the head of Carolina Hurricanes 23-year-old defenseman Justin Faulk.
Thompson’s hit on Faulk happened Friday, with the NHL taking the weekend to look at the play before coming to a decision. Thompson, 31, had his hearing Monday, after which the three-game ban was announced. The suspension video and the explanation from the league can be seen below:
At the time of the incident, Thompson received a major penalty for an illegal check to the head as well as a game misconduct. However, the play was deemed to be worthy of further discipline.
“Rather than hitting squarely through his opponent’s body, Thompson extends his body unnecessarily and makes Faulk’s head the main point of contact,” Patrick Burke, director of NHL’s Department of Player Safety, explains. “While Faulk is low to the ice as (Thompson) steps up, he does not materially change the position of his head just prior to or simultaneous with contact.”
Burke does make it clear, though, that Faulk was eligible to be hit on the play, and that it was Thompson delivery of the hit — not attempting the hit itself — that made the play suspendable.
Playing into the suspension length is that Thompson had been previously suspended by the league in March 2013. That suspension was the result of a hit to the head of then-Devils winger Matt D’Agostini while Thompson was a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Thompson loses $25,806.45 due to the suspension, all of which will go to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.