I assumed a suspension was coming to Harry Zolnierzczyk, but I didn't quite expect four games. Nevertheless, that's the ban that's been handed down by Brendan Shanahan and the NHL's Department of Player Safety for Harry Z's hit Saturday on Senators defenseman Mike Lundin.
Shanahan cited contact with the head and the fact that Zolnierczyk left his feet before the hit as the chief reasoning for the lengthy ban. He said that Zolnierczyk clearly left the ice before the hit, not after impact.
"In all areas of the ice," Shanahan said, "players still have the responsibility to keep their head up and expect to be checked. What no player should expect is that his opponent will launch upward, off the ice and into his head."
Lundin was also concussed on the play, which certainly factored in to the decision.
The next move will be interesting: Do the Flyers keep Zolnierczyk on the NHL roster, or do they send him down to the AHL? The American Hockey League will honor the NHL suspension, so he's sitting out the next four games regardless of league, but he has to be on the Flyers roster for any games to count against his NHL suspension.
If he's sent down, he'll still have to serve his NHL suspension whenever he's called back up -- and that could obviously impact whether or not the Flyers do choose call him up. In trying to throw a big hit to fall into Peter Laviolette's good graces, Zolnierczyk could have severely impacted his ability to play in the NHL this season. We'll see what the team chooses to do.
If he remains on the Flyers roster, he'll be eligible to return to the lineup on Wednesday, March 13 against New Jersey. He'll forfeit $12,972.96 in salary during the ban.