After a high hit on Dallas Stars forward Tanner Kero on Saturday night, Blackhawks forward Brett Connolly was given five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct on the play. Today, after a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety, Connolly was handed an additional four-game suspension. This is his first suspension of his NHL career.
Chicago’s Brett Connolly has been suspended for four games for Interference on Dallas’ Tanner Kero. https://t.co/6g23ix1zDh
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) December 20, 2021
The difference between Connolly’s hit to Kero, and the similar hit that Jujhar Khaira took from New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba earlier this season, is that Kero was not playing the puck, in the eyes of the NHL. Khaira had the puck between his skates when Trouba hit him. Both hits were high. Both hits ended with a player being carted-off the ice on a stretcher, but Trouba faced no discipline and Connolly had the hammer dropped on him.
It’s bogus, if you ask me, that Trouba was able to come away with zero discipline from his hit to Khaira and Connolly is essentially given a five-game suspension, since he was tossed from Saturday night’s game just three minutes into the contest. But this is the NHL Department of Player Safety, where you can basically just spin a wheel and whatever it lands on, there’s your suspension or fine.
For Connolly, the wheel doesn’t spin in his favor. It’s a four-game suspension without pay, so he will forfeit $70,000, based on his average annual salary. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. Connolly will miss Chicago’s next four scheduled games on Thursday against the Dallas Stars, December 28 and 29 against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Winnipeg Jets, and January 1 against the Nashville Predators.