On Wednesday night, Montreal Canadiens’ defenseman P.K. Subban set the hockey world ablaze.
If, somehow, you missed the video of the play, here’s a look at Subban’s two-handed chop to Ottawa Senators’ rookie Mark Stone‘s forearm:
The slash resulted in a five-minute major for Subban and an immediate ejection from the game.
Stone was injured, returned in the second, and left again in the third period. He had suffered a microfracture of his wrist and tried to play through the injury. Subban raged about his match penalty. The Senators-Canadiens rivalry was re-born before the second period ended.
But what is the fallout of the Mark Stone-P.K. Subban incident? How will the players and the series be affected?
Let’s take a deeper look in the 2014-15 NHL Playoffs’ first major storyline.
The Controversial Call and the Retaliation to Come
When Subban slashed Stone, referees Dave Jackson and Steve Kozari immediately conferred to confirm the five-minute penalty and game misconduct call. Though fans seemed stunned at the ejection, the game misconduct is required for a severe slash, regardless of whether or not that slash results in “major injury” to a player:
So as per NHL Rule 61 Subban doesn't need to injure Stone to get game misconduct; just needs to engage in a severe slash in view of referee
— Eric Macramalla (@EricOnSportsLaw) April 16, 2015
Just taped segment with TSN for That's Hockey2Nite & Sports Centre explaining the slashing major and game misconduct assessed to PK Subban.
— Kerry Fraser (@kfraserthecall) April 16, 2015
While the call on the ice seems to check out, the debate on a suspension for Subban – and the news that he hasn’t been suspended – remains a point of contention.
Predictably, Habs coach Michel Therrien didn’t feel that the slash warranted more than the penalty that was assessed. As per Ken Warren of The Ottawa Citizen, Therrien said:
It’s a slashing penalty, no doubt. But I don’t think it’s a major. [On Stone’s return] I don’t know the nature of his injuries. It’s tough for me to comment.
And, in his typically impassioned way, Sens GM Bryan Murray demanded justice. As per Doug Harrison at CBCSports:
[Stone] came back as a courageous guy after being hurt…The disturbing part from our point of view is that there was a threat made before by Subban to Stone. There were two attempts on faceoffs to slash him, one connected. Then he two-handed him across the wrist in front of the net. [Stone] has been one of the top five players in the league the last two months of the year. It’s huge loss.
I thought the officials made the right call on the ice but I thought also, after knowing the extent of the injury, that something further would be considered.
But, the best quote of all came from Sens coach Dave Cameron, who issued a warning that resonated around the NHL Playoffs world:
Sure, Cameron’s quote may have helped ensure the NHL didn’t suspend Subban. In fact, Cameron’s gritty threat may even earn Ottawa an extra penalty or two if Chris Neil or Mark Borowiecki appear to take a liberty with, say, Tomas Plekanec or Brendan Gallagher. Sens players will now need to be wary.
But the most important product of Cameron’s words may be the support and fire he modelled for his team. By showing his own passion in the scrum, Cameron was repeating a move he had pulled at the end of the season.
On April 7, the Sens orchestrated a dramatic comeback win after surrendering a 3-0 first period lead to the Pittsburgh Penguins before the second period. Prior to that game, Cameron took the heat of the Sens in the media:
Answering in jest and attracting the media’s attention is a common ploy used by coaches when situations become stressful for their players. By issuing a threat in the media, Cameron enabled his team to answer Stone-Subban questions mildly. Their coach had already issued the harsh words – all that needed saying had been said.
Whether or not Cameron’s strategy helps the Senators to recover from their Game 1 loss remains to be seen. But the rookie head coach has shown a deft touch in handling the media during the past month.
A Marked Man – Can Stone Return?
With 35 points in the team’s final 31 games, losing Stone to a wrist injury would cripple the Senators’ offense and their chances to challenge the Canadiens in the first-round series. After such a horrid hack, how could Stone return?
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 17, 2015
Chris Johnston reported today that Stone could miraculously return to action tonight. Whether Stone can actually play – and shoot the puck with any force whatsoever – won’t be clear until game time. For the Sens, the return of their rookie star is a must to challenge the Habs’ Carey Price.
But if he does return, Stone is now a marked man.
RT SidneyCrosbyEgo: Even Mark Stone will get an Oscar before Leonardo DiCaprio https://t.co/OoTjQDNmOf
— BEST VINES (@BEST_VINNEEs) April 16, 2015
With many observers calling his reaction an “act,” Stone must now be prepared for the extra attention he is sure to receive throughout the series – if he returns.
Mark Stone’s availability, effectiveness, and injury status will definitely set the tone for the next move in this series.
And just for fun, Chris Neil is set to draw into the lineup for the first time since February 14 if Stone can’t go.
What do you think of the Stone-Subban incident? Did Stone embellish? Will the Sens seek retribution?