Penguins defenseman Kris Letang has a history of head injuries and has missed games as recently as Sunday out of concern for his health, and he was forced to leave Wednesday’s game for a short time after taking a dangerous hit from behind from Maple Leafs winger Leo Komarov.
Letang was chasing a puck back into the Pittsburgh zone with less than five minutes remaining in the first period of Wednesday’s game after Toronto’s Nazem Kadri had shot wide of the net. As Letang went to play the puck, he stopped a few feet short of the boards behind the Pittsburgh net as Komarov approached from behind. As the puck reached Letang, he was shoved from behind and shoulder first into the boards by Komarov:
Thankfully, Letang was able to get back to his feet, but Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Seth Rorabaugh that Letang was ordered to the dressing room for evaluation after taking the hit from Komarov. That makes sense considering Letang has a history of head injuries and, as mentioned, missed Sunday’s game after taking a jolt to the head this past Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.
As for Komarov, he was issued a minor penalty for boarding, even though it initially looked as though the hit would end his night. The hit by Komarov was reckless and could have seriously injured Letang, but there’s been no indication yet that the league will be looking into the hit further.
If the league does choose to suspend Komarov, however, it would be his first run-in with the league. Komarov has never been fined or suspended, and hasn’t even been trotting to the box on a consistent basis: in 140 career games, he has 54 penalty minutes.