The NHL has announced last night that Niklas Kronwall, assistant captain of the Detroit Red Wings, will be suspended for tonight’s game seven against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He is being suspended for Monday night’s hit on forward Nikita Kucherov.

The reason behind the suspension is because it is being declared charging, according to a press release by the NHL. Now, it is the way Kronwall launches himself up and drives his foearm into the face of Kucherov that resulted in the hit’s classification as charging.

But what makes this hit deserving of a suspension “is the force with which the hit was delivered and the significant head contact that resulted from Kronwall launching into it.” With this said, the NHL agrees Kucherov could have been hit on the play, but it is the assistant captain’s elevation on the ice that makes it a punishable play.

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However, the Detroit Red Wings personnel has showed great dissatisfaction in this decision, even claiming the hit was simply not that egregious.

“We disagree with the decision,” general manager Ken Holland briefly said. On top of this, head coach Mike Babcock has weighed in the severity of the hit.

“It was a good hit,” Babcock stated. “I thought Kucherov was leaning back trying to get out of the way. Kronner’s foot was on the ice when he made contact, elbow tucked into the side… If you go through this series, in game two Callahan did the same to DeKeyser. Last night, Palat got Glendening exactly the same way.”

While Niklas Kronwall does not have the flashiest numbers, he is certainly a leader in the locker room and an important piece of the Red Wings’ defense. This loss is definitely going to hurt them and they need reserves Jakub Kindl or Alexey Marchenko to step up.

Now, should this have been a suspendible hit? Yes, but there have been a ton of hits in the playoffs that were comparable to this and none of those players were suspended – just look at Tom Wilson’s hit on Visnovsky.

So it is terrible that the NHL has decided to suspend Kronwall during such an important game seven. Either be more consistent when it comes to doling out punishment or let the athletes play.

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