BUFFALO, N.Y. – There’s probably a decent chance Niklas Hjalmarsson will be suspended for the hit Monday on Jason Pominville that left the Sabres’ winger with a concussion and a cut above his eye.
The hit was slightly from behind and involved Pominville’s head, which the NHL is certain to take into account. What Hjalmasson has in his favor is he has a reputation of being a clean player with no previous offenses.
“The decision is in the league’s hands now,” said Hjalmarsson, who received a game misconduct for boarding and a game misconduct. “We’ll see what they’re going to decide.”
Pominville left the ice on a stretcher after the hit in the first period but was said to be walking OK in the dressing room following the Hawks’ 4-3 win.
Hjalmarsson thought it was a shoulder-to-shoulder hit and that the puck was at Pominville’s skates.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville doesn’t believe Hjalmarsson deserves a suspension.
“I don’t foresee that, but we’ll see,” Quenneville said. “I don’t even think it’s an option from watching the play.
“To me you can argue that it was even a penalty. I know that you don't want to see anybody go down and get hurt like that, but (Hjalmarsson) wasn't even looking at the guy. He was playing the puck and just hit him. There was no intent at all on the head."
In no way was Hjalmarsson’s hit similar to the one that James Wisniewski delivered to Brent Seabrook last March in Anaheim, as some have foolishly suggested.
Wisniewski, who earned an eight-game suspension, came from beyond the faceoff circles to intentionally elbow Seabrook in the head behind the net. That was a dirty play. What Hjalmarsson did was not.