Douglas Murray is known as a hard hitter – a devastating hitter – but he’s never played dirty doing it. Before this month started, Murray had never been suspended before.
That's quickly changed, though.
Just a week and a half ago, Murray was given a match penalty and ejected from Montreal’s game against Tampa Bay for elbowing Mike Kostka in the head. The NHL subsequently suspended him three games.
Thursday, Murray returned to the lineup fresh off his Shanaban (and perhaps the last Shanaban on record) and just after the midway mark of the game, this happened:
Murray was again ejected, this time for a hit from behind. However the supplemental discipline office will be organized post-Shanahan, Murray will be the first case to work with. (UPDATE: Murray will actually be second. Mike Rupp will face the music first for this brutal high hit on T.J. Oshie that forced Oshie out of the game.)
This one, though, isn’t as clear. It appears to these eyes that Murray is committing to hitting Johan Sundstrom’s shoulder as the Islander cuts around the net, and that Sundstrom’s side is out in front until he turns on Murray. And Murray isn't about to let Sundstrom glide to the front of the net with the puck.
Is it boarding? Is it boarding vicious and dangerous enough to suspend on top of the ejection? That's the consideration this time. Sundstrom left the game and was taken to hospital for observation.
Now that Murray will be treated as a repeat offender and since this was in his very first game back from a first suspension, maybe the league will look a little harder at sitting him down again.
But even if Murray is suspended, don’t expect it to be for more than one game. That’s all the Habs have left in their regular season – and we all know the standards change dramatically for post-season suspensions.