Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog was suspended for the first time in his career earlier this season, and it appears he could be facing a second ban before the season is up.
In the third period of Colorado’s 3-0 win over Anaheim Wednesday, Landeskog was coming back into the Avalanche zone during a scramble in front of Semyon Varlamov. The puck bounced around in the crease before popping out towards Ducks defenseman Simon Despres, who spun to locate the puck and fire a backhand on net. As Despres spun, Landeskog approached from the left, had his stick raised and made contract with Despres’ head and neck with a crosscheck:
Amazingly, Landeskog was not penalized on the play, with the only infraction going to David Perron for a hook that occurred a second after Landeskog had made contract with Despres. The jolt to the head kept Despres down for a few moments, but he was able to get to his feet and skate off ice without the help from the Ducks’ training staff. It was nearly two minutes before Despres took his next shift, but he remained in the contest.
Though Landeskog was not penalized, that has no bearing on whether the Department of Player Safety can choose to suspended the Avalanche winger. No hearing has yet been announced for Landeskog, but it seems like exactly the type of play the DOPS would set a hearing for. When it comes to a suspension, the major factors for Landeskog here are that he’s a repeat offender and that Despres didn’t appear to suffer any lasting injury. Of course, that will only impact suspension length, not the league’s decision on whether or not the hit was suspendable.
One major concern regarding the crosscheck — suspension or not — is Despres’ health. You’ll recall he missed 42 games this season due to a concussion suffered four games into the campaign. Coincidentally, the hit that concussed Despres came from Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie, and he was suspended three games for the late, high hit.
It would be a significant blow to the Ducks to lose Despres just as the post-season is approaching, and it will hurt even more considering Sami Vatanen was also forced out of Wednesday’s game with an upper-body injury. Despres finished the contest
No hearing has yet been announced for Landeskog, but the league has time to decide his fate. The Avalanche don’t play again until Saturday when they visit the Winnipeg Jets.
UPDATE: The Department of Player Safety announced Landeskog has been handed a three-game suspension for his crosscheck on Despres.
"This is not a case in which a player is utilizing his stick in a battle for position or in an attempt to knock an opponent off the puck," said Patrick Burke, director of the Department of Player Safety. Burke indicated this was not one of those incidents, which he said can be penalized properly by the referees on the ice.
"The backchecking Landeskog comes through with speed and recklessly raises his stick into Despres' head," Burke said. "While we understand his explanation that he was not targeting his opponent's head, players must be responsible for their stick."