By Allan Muir
Pretty much everyone who saw Lars Eller lying face down in a pool of his own blood on Thursday night was horrified by the results of Eric Gryba’s devastating open ice hit. But there weren’t many, outside of Montreal loyalists who looked at that collision and thought it was the sort of play that needed to be eliminated from the NHL.
Apparently that number swelled by at least one today as the Ottawa defender was handed a two-game suspension by Brendan Shanahan for what he called an “illegal check to the head of Eller.”
No doubt this was a tough call for the NHL’s chief disciplinarian. Arguably the toughest he’d faced all season. Despite the injury suffered by Eller, there was no black or white in this incident. Watch the replay a dozen times and you won’t see incontrovertible proof of Eller’s head being the primary point of contact – -or of an innocent hit gone awry — unless that’s exactly what you’re looking to see.