Kevin Westgarth couldn’t have made it any easier for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
The Carolina forward was suspended two games today for a breathtakingly stupid hit on Ottawa’s Mark Borowiecki on Sunday.
The Senators defenseman had just blown a tire on the corner and was trying to regain his feet when Westgarth barreled in from the face-off circle and planted Borowiecki head first into the boards.
It certainly wasn’t the hardest or cheapest hit we’ve seen this season, but, as Brendan Shanahan explains in the suspension video, “at no point, from the moment Westgarth changes direction, is Borowiecki ever eligible to be checked. Borowiecki is completely vulnerable…[and] Westgarth never stops or makes an attempt to slow down. This is a time when Westgarth should completely avoid contact.”
That’s what common sense would dictate, anyway. This is one of those cases where respect for the safety of his opponent should have slammed the brakes on Westgarth. Since it didn’t, and since Borowiecki was injured on the play, this was the call Shanahan had to make.