No one would accuse Boston Bruins winger Max Talbot of being a dirty player, but the 31-year-old definitely plays with a certain edge to his game. But for as clean as Talbot’s record has been, he may have thrown a hit that falls a little too close to the grey area between clean and suspendable Sunday night.
Talbot threw a questionable, late hit on winger Jiri Tlusty in the second period of Sunday’s game against the New Jersey Devils. The hit left Tlusty momentarily stunned, but no penalty was called on the play and Tlusty remained in the game.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety, however, thought the hit was worth another look and, according to The Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin, the league is reviewing the hit meaning Talbot could potentially draw supplemental discipline:
Say what you will for Tlusty not bracing himself or watching his pass, the responsibility in this situation would seem to fall on Talbot. It’s clear from NESN’s slowed down replay that Tlusty — who turns his head away and appears to be trying to plan where he should skate to in the Bruins’ zone — isn’t expecting to be hit before Talbot drops him.
One thing in Talbot’s favor, though, is that the hit doesn’t appear to make the head the principle point of contact. If anything, Tlusty was most shaken up from having the wind knocked out of him. Injury only plays a factor in suspension length, not whether a player should be suspended, but it’s worth noting that Tlusty continued his shift after the TV timeout. He also played another eight shifts and seemed no worse for wear.
Talbot has no history of suspension and has never been fined by the league. Again, though, that will only factor in to any supplemental discipline should the league decide Talbot’s questionable hit be deemed a suspendable one by the league.
UPDATE: Talbot has been suspended two games by the NHL for interference after the hit was reviewed by the Department of Player Safety.
Per the suspension video, Talbot's hit was ruled worthy of a suspension for its "predatory nature" and the "extreme lateness" of the check.
"Talbot takes three quick strides, crouches and drives his right shoulder up and into Tlusty's chest and head well after Tlusty releases the puck and well after the time he is eligible to be checked," the video says. The video continues by saying that while players should expect contact, it is "perfectly reasonable" for Tlusty to not be braced for contact that long after moving the puck.
Talbot will lose $19,354.84 in salary, all of which will go to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.