Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri could be facing yet another postseason suspension.
Kadri received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a high hit on Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk late in the third period of Saturday’s Game 2 in the teams’ first-round series.
Game 3 is Monday night in Toronto, and Kadri will have an in-person hearing Monday afternoon in New York, according to the league’s Department of Player Safety. An in-person hearing means the league has the ability to suspend Kadri for more than five games.
The Bruins won 4-1 to tie the series at one game apiece.
DeBrusk delivered a hard hit on Toronto’s Patrick Marleau and was standing near the boards when Kadri hit him high with his stick. The hit knocked DeBrusk to the ice and the Bruins forward did not return to the game.
“It looked like a cross-check to the face,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I assume it’ll be dealt with, or looked at, and we’ll go from there.”
DeBrusk said he underwent tests after the game and is still waiting for the results.
Nazem Kadri’s NHL disciplinary record
- Nov. 1, 2013: Suspended three games for hit to head against Niklas Backstrom
- March 18, 2015: Suspended four games for illegal check to the head against Matt Fraser
- Feb. 11, 2016: Fined $5,000 for inappropriate gestures (throat-slash at Mark Giordano)
- March 12, 2016: Fined $2,000 for diving/embellishment
- March 21, 2016: Fined $2,000 for diving/embellishment
- April 4, 2016: Suspended four games for cross-checking Luke Glendening
- April 13, 2018: Suspended three games for boarding Tommy Wingels
“It’s up to the league to decide, to be honest. I got no comment,” he said. “I did a series of tests. I’m just hoping they come back negative. It’s all kind of a blur, to be honest. From what I remember, it was high. I felt it in my face.”
Kadri was not made available after the game.
If Kadri is unavailable for Game 3, Toronto coach Mike Babcock said he will play either William Nylander or Marleau in Kadri’s slot as the team’s third-line center.
In last year’s playoffs, Kadri was suspended three games for boarding Boston forward Tommy Wingels. The Maple Leafs went on to lose that series in seven games.
The Department of Player Safety factors a player’s history into its discipline. Kadri has four career suspensions. Kadri was also suspended four games in April 2016 for cross-checking. His other suspensions have included four games for an illegal hit in 2015 and three games for goalie interference in 2013.
After the hit on Wingels in last year’s playoffs, Kadri spoke to reporters and defended the play.
“I certainly wasn’t trying to hit him while he was down like that. I was already committed to the hit,” Kadri said at the time. “If he’s still standing up, there isn’t anything wrong on that, but he fell.”
Several Maple Leafs players made available after Saturday’s game said they did not see Kadri’s hit on DeBrusk from a proper angle and therefore did not want to comment on it.
2019 Stanley Cup playoffs
Miss a game from the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs? Want to experience a game again? Every playoff matchup is available for replay on ESPN+. Watch now »
“It was kind of in a blind spot for us on the bench,” winger Zach Hyman said.
Kadri’s hit on DeBrusk could be seen as retaliatory. In the second period, DeBrusk collided with Kadri in what appeared to be a knee-on-knee hit. Kadri was down on the ice for several minutes, and had to exit the game. No penalty was called on the play.
“Judging by the way Naz went down, it didn’t seem great,” Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly said. “I talked to the ref, he said he dropped him, and it was just a big hit.”
Said Cassidy: “I thought it was clean. Looking back on it, shoulder to shoulder. Obviously Kadri stayed down. I mean that’s his prerogative when you get hit.”
Kadri returned in the third period and scored Toronto’s lone goal.
Several Maple Leafs players, including Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Rielly, said they had no issue with the officiating on Saturday.