Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy maintained that his hit on Columbus Blue Jackets right winger Josh Anderson on Monday was intended as nothing more than a hard hockey check.
While the on-ice officials for the Bruins’ clinching Game 6 win in Columbus appeared to agree, issuing him only a two-minute minor for contact to the head, the NHL on Tuesday nonetheless suspended McAvoy for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The Bruins open the series against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday in Boston.
After holding a hearing involving McAvoy, the league’s Department of Player Safety on Tuesday backed up the player’s contention that he had no malicious intent in the check on Anderson, who left the ice after the second-period collision but returned later in the game.
The hit occurred after Anderson won control of the puck and was trying to move deeper into the attacking zone. His head appeared to take the brunt of McAvoy’s hit.
“I put my shoulder into him. It was a hockey play. I tried to finish my check in a legal manner,” McAvoy said. “I was penalized two minutes and I served it.”
However, the league said it issued the disciplinary measure because McAvoy could have made the check on Anderson without hitting him in the head.
In a video released by the department that talked about the suspension, the league said: “It’s important to note that while Anderson’s body and front shoulder do absorb some contact on this check, the main point of contact was the head.”