In the third period of last night’s 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Roman Polak crushed Oliver Bjorkstrand into the boards with a dangerous hit from behind. Polak was assessed a five-minute major and was removed from the game. This morning, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety dropped the hammer on Polak, giving him a two-game suspension.
Roman Polak gets 5 and a game for an awful hit from behind on Oliver Bjorkstrand. pic.twitter.com/dGguudC3eL
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) March 23, 2017
The rationale from Player Safety:
Toronto’s Roman Polak suspended two games for boarding Columbus’ Oliver Bjorkstrand. https://t.co/pHvhFoOaZW
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 23, 2017
The video suggests that while Bjorkstrand turned around and put himself into a vulnerable position, but the onus is on Polak to make a clean finish to the check. Instead, Polak clearly used force in the hit, resulting in Bjorkstrand suffering an injury.
The suspension represents the first time Polak has been disciplined by the NHL in his 11 years in the league, despite the fact he has a reputation for making questionable, grey area hits. Polak will forfeit $25,000 in salary for the suspension.
In Polak’s absence, Alexei Marchenko will step in on the team’s third pair alongside Matt Hunwick. No other roster transactions have been announced.