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Suspend him or not: Matt Hendricks delivers questionable hit on Aaron Ekblad

The Oilers begin a two-game road trip Tuesday, but they could be without winger Matt Hendricks after he delivered a questionable hit to Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad Sunday. Hendricks fought Logan Shaw after the hit, but was not given a penalty for laying the body on Ekblad.
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Edmonton Oilers winger Matt Hendricks was all over the ice Sunday night and it could leave him watching from the sidelines for a game or two after the league announced he will have a phone hearing for a hit he threw on Panthers blueliner Aaron Ekblad.

Early in the third period of Sunday’s game, Hendricks had chipped the puck into the Florida Panthers’ zone and was giving chase in a 2-1 game. Ekblad headed back to retrieve the puck with Hendricks barrelling in on the forecheck and made the decision to reverse the puck to partner Brian Campbell. In tapping the puck over to Campbell, though, Ekblad kept his back turned to the play and was run into hard by Hendricks:

The collision itself was scary enough, but Ekblad laying flat on the ice was enough to make the hearts of Panthers fans skip a beat. The 19-year-old blueliner was able to get up under his own power and make his way to the Florida bench, though he would later exit the game. Ekblad did return, however, and skated three more shifts before the game concluded.

For Hendricks, his dust up with Logan Shaw was the second time he dropped the gloves in what was an exceptionally physical contest for a game between two teams in separate conferences that only meet twice a season. Hendricks’ first fight of the night came with less than five minutes remaining in the second period when he dropped the gloves with Florida Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic. Hendricks skated a total of 56 seconds between his two fights.

Hard as it may be to believe, Hendricks’ hit on Ekblad wasn’t called, though, but that won’t impact whether or not the league decides to deliver supplemental discipline. Hendricks’ chances of not receiving discipline will be hurt by the fact Ekblad’s back remains turned to the Oilers winger throughout the entire play. It’s a play where Hendricks didn’t have to hit Ekblad, either. Ekblad’s back is where Hendricks makes contact first, but the hit causes him to ride up through the body and crunch Ekblad’s head into the boards.

Though Ekblad was briefly injured, he returned to the game. Injury doesn’t impact the league’s decision to suspend, but it can factor into the punishment should the league choose to hand out discipline.

The Oilers hit the road for a two-game road trip beginning Tuesday. And if the Panthers want to exact any more revenge on Hendricks, the two teams will meet again Jan. 18 in Florida.

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