Monday, January 26, 2015
On Monday, the National Hockey League levied an eight-game suspension to Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo for his unprovoked hit from behind against Penguins defenseman Kris Letang in the first period of last Tuesday's 3-2 overtime victory.
For Rinaldo, it's the third time he's felt the sting of league discipline since being called up to the NHL during the 2011-12 season and the first in only nine months since his four-game rap for elbowing Buffalo's Chad Ruhwedel.
It's also the most severe punishment dealt to any member of the Philadelphia on-ice product since Jody Shelley was hit with a 10-game ban (five in the preseason and five in the regular season) for exhibition shenangians in September of 2011.
As a repeat offender, the decision from NHL Player Safety head Stephane Quintal was made quite easily, and even more so as Rinaldo declined an in-person hearing which ensured at least a 6-game issuance. We can continue to speculate if the punishment should have been harsher.
Under the terms of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, Rinaldo will have to fork over $73,170.72 which automatically goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
He will not be eligible to return until Feb. 17, when the Orange and Black kick off a four-game homestand against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Rinaldo's offense is tied for the sixth longest handed down to a Flyer in their history. Jesse Boulerice was given a 25-game ban -- one which effectively ended his career in the NHL -- back in October of 2007 for doing the dirt to Vancouver's Ryan Kesler. That occurred several weeks after Steve Downie was presented with a 20-game absence and one which was honored in the AHL, for acting like a cruise missile during a hit on Ottawa's Dean McAmmond.
Dave Brown was slammed with a 15-game suspension in November of 1987 for breaking the jaw of Rangers forward Tomas Sandstrom with a cross-check. Hextall himself was sent away for the first 12 games of the 1989-90 season for his revenge attack on Habs defenseman Chris Chelios in the previous year's Wales Conference Finals, and Rick Tocchet was forced to sit out 10 games for gouging the eye of Islanders defenseman Dean Chynoweth during an October 1988 fight.
Shelley was mentioned above and Hextall's original disciplinary action from the league stemmed from his two-handed slash to the back of the legs of Edmonton's Kent Nilsson in the 1987 Finals. That earned him a seat for the first eight games of the 1987-88 season.
White was officially recalled from a conditioning stint with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The 26-year-old, who shares a birth city with Flyers GM Ron Hextall, totaled a goal and two assists in 11 games for the Phantoms. He picked up six points in 50 games for the Montreal Canadiens last year.