A day after Washington’s Tom Wilson escaped with merely a fine for his part in a brawl in New York, Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere was given a two-game suspension for a cheap hit on Pittsburgh’s Mark Friedman.
Gostisbehere, who had never been suspended in his six-year career, was called for cross-checking Friedman after the Penguins defenseman slid home an empty-net goal with less than five minutes left on Tuesday. The hit was long after Friedman had the puck and was another cheap shot in a game filled with chippy plays.
“It’s important to note that this is not a defensive play in which Gostisbehere is attempting to reach the puck carrier to prevent the goal from being scored,” the league said in a video explaining its decision. “It is only after the empty-net goal is apparent that Gostisbehere adjusts his skating path, takes a hard stride to reach Friedman, and begins to initiate this contact.”
Requests for comment from Gostisbehere and Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher were not returned.
The Penguins presumably were incensed by Gostisbehere’s hit because they put their No. 1 power-play unit on while he served his penalty. Sidney Crosby feathered a pass to John Marino to make the final score 7-3.
Friedman, a third-round pick of the Flyers in 2014, must not have been a well-liked member of the club. He was waived by the Flyers in February and picked up by Pittsburgh, which is managed by former Flyers GM Ron Hextall.
He has played in four games for Pittsburgh this season, all against the Flyers, who’ve gone out of their way to be physical with the 5-foot-11 defenseman. Joel Farabee flattened Friedman in a fight on Tuesday after Jake Voracek cross-checked Friedman. The Penguins scored on that power play, too.
The NHL player safety committee came under intense criticism after giving Washington’s Tom Wilson a $5,000 fine but no suspension for his violent outburst Monday night against the Rangers.
That led the Rangers to issue a remarkable statement saying the NHL head of player safety George Parros was derelict in his duty and “unfit to continue in his current role.”
Farabee, a rookie last season, was suspended for three games for a hit that wasn’t nearly as egregious as Wilson’s outburst Monday, and Wilson has a track record of five suspensions and multiple fines. The league handed Gostisbehere two games after acknowledging his clean record.
The Flyers have three games remaining: Friday and Saturday in Washington, Monday at home against New Jersey.