With the Colorado Avalanche sitting around and waiting to see who they will faceoff against in the second round of the NHL Playoffs, one piece of business that is still being worked through is the suspension of Nazem Kadri.
Last Friday, Kadri was hit with an eight game suspension for his his on St. Louis Blues defender Justin Faulk. It was Kadri’s sixth suspension since joining the NHL in 2010 and the third in his last four playoff appearances. This one was Kadri’s longest yet and the NHL gave the following explanation for their decision:
Sunday, Kadri’s camp decided to appeal the suspension and the NHL has now set the hearing for Thursday morning. The first appeal goes to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and if unsuccessful, Kadri could then take his case to a neutral arbitrator if he so chooses.
Appealing a suspension is a player and NHLPA decisions but judging by the words of Avalanche Head Coach Jared Bednar, it seems like the team agrees that the punishment was too harsh.
“I’m a little surprised, to be honest with you,” said Bednar. “I looked through all the head shot suspensions for the last year, a lot of two-gamers getting handed out for significant hits to the head. We’ve had some guys put out with hits to the head that are still out with no suspension. So, I thought, generally the rule of thumb is playoffs you get a little less, and he got significantly worse.”
Though it’s apparent that Kadri’s hit was very dangerous and deserved a suspension, there is an argument to be made that eight games is too many.
Bednar is right, these kinds of hits normally result in a one or two game suspension. The league multiplied that normal number because of Kadri’s history - which would be fine had they not shown only a few weeks ago that a player’s history doesn’t seem to count for much. When the NHL chose only to fine Tom Wilson for his dangerous altercation with Artemi Panarin and Pavel Buchnevich, they provided a case to be argued that they don’t always take suspension history into account. That inconsistency will almost certainly be worked into Kadri’s defense.
Kadri has already served two games of the suspension leaving six more - meaning he won’t be able to return until game seven of the next round at the earliest. We should have a final decision by Friday.
Nazem Kadri suspension history:
- November 2013: three games for hit to the head
- March 2015: four games for hit to the head
- April 2016: four games for cross-checking
- April 2018: three games for boarding
- April 2019: “rest of series” for cross-checking
- May 2021: eight games for hit to the head