Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele calls four-game suspension 'extreme'

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Winnipeg Jets star heart Mark Scheifele defended his hit that put Montreal Canadiens ahead Jake Evans on a stretcher and stated the NHL was “excessive” in giving him a four-game suspension for it.

“I think it was pretty excessive. I wasn’t expecting that. I was pretty shocked. But that’s their decision,” Scheifele stated in a information convention Friday, hours earlier than Sport 2 of the sequence.

With 56.9 seconds remaining in Sport 1 of the North Division closing Wednesday night time, Evans scored into an empty Winnipeg internet to clinch a 5-Three victory for Montreal. As he did, Scheifele skated into him at full velocity, his proper arm tucked to his physique. The Canadiens ahead fell exhausting to the ice, with the appropriate facet of his head hitting first.

Evans was stretchered off the ice and later identified with a concussion. Scheifele was given a five-minute main for charging and a sport misconduct, and the NHL handed down the four-game suspension Thursday, calling the collision “a high, predatory hit.”

The Jets heart disagreed with that characterization.

“There’s a minute left in the game. We just scored. It’s a one-goal game. My only thought in my mind is to prevent a goal,” Scheifele stated. “There’s no malice there, no intent. I don’t go in with the frame of mind of injuring a hockey player.”

The NHL argued that Scheifele made no effort to make a defensive play on the empty-net try and that, by taking his hand off his stick and turning his shoulder into Evans, he was “conceding the empty-net goal” and turning his consideration to delivering “a hard, violent check to an opponent with the outcome of both the play and the game already having been decided.”

Scheifele pushed again on that too.

“I’m not preparing for a hit. I’m preparing for contact,” he stated. “He’s trying to get to that post, and I’m trying to get to that post. That’s completely incorrect.”

Scheifele stated that he reached out to a couple Canadiens gamers, together with his buddy Brendan Gallagher, and that he’s praying for Evans to make a speedy restoration.

Jets coach Paul Maurice expressed shock that Scheifele was given 4 video games whereas admitting that he anticipated the NHL would droop the ahead for at the very least two video games. Maurice contended that Scheifele’s document — having by no means been fined or suspended by the NHL earlier than — and the character of the hit made the suspension extreme.

“He’s a clean offensive player,” Maurice stated. “I looked at that hit and I used the word ‘clean,’ and the reason that I used it is because the things that I call ‘dirty’ in a hit weren’t there for me. I don’t agree with the distance traveled argument, because there’s no other option in that distance traveled — on a straight line, meeting at a point of contact.”

Scheifele additionally cited his document — with 237 penalty minutes in 575 profession regular-season video games — as proof that he did not intend something malicious.

“The result is what sucks. Having a guy hurt is what no one wants in this league. The league made their decision. I don’t agree with it. No one knows what was going through my mind except myself. I tried to portray that to the league,” he stated. “I keep coming back to my record. I had 12 penalty minutes this year. I had one boarding penalty in my entire career. I haven’t had a charging penalty. I don’t think I’ve had more than frickin’ 20 hits a year. My intention is not to injure. It’s to prevent a goal.”

The hit created prompt animosity within the sequence. Montreal ahead Jesperi Kotkaniemi referred to as the play “disgusting,” and defenseman Joel Edmundson vowed revenge on Scheifele, saying “if he gets back in the series, we’re going to make his life miserable.”

Some followers additionally took that zeal too far, in accordance with Scheifele. He stated his mother and father and different family members have been getting harassing messages on-line and over the cellphone.

“I can accept the punishment. That’s what you sign up for. But the hate that my family has gotten, the bullying that they’ve gotten is completely unacceptable. It’s pretty gross to see. My parents are the salt of the earth. For them to get hate like that is awful,” he stated. “There’s no reason to go after my loved ones. It’s completely unacceptable. But that’s our society nowadays.”

Scheifele is eligible to return for Sport 6 of the sequence, which Montreal leads 1-0. If the Jets are swept, the ultimate sport from his ban will carry over to the subsequent common season.

Because the suspension was lower than six video games, Scheifele didn’t have the appropriate to enchantment to a impartial arbitrator. He might enchantment solely to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and Scheifele stated he has chosen not to take action.

“I don’t want to be a distraction to this team,” Scheifele stated. “It really wouldn’t have done anything anyway with the way the rules work.”

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