Komarov suspended three games

New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) lies injured on the ice after taking a hit to the head from Toronto Maple Leafs center Leo Komarov during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press. via AP)

Ryan McDonagh lies face down following Leo Komarov’s cheap shot. He was suspended three games today. AP Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

During the first period of Thursday night’s game, Leafs’ forward Leo Komarov blatantly elbowed Ryan McDonagh injuring the Rangers’ defenseman. He was assessed a match penalty and automatic game misconduct. Today, the NHL Department of Player Safety acted quickly suspending Komarov three games.

Maple Leafs’ Komarov Suspended Three Games for Elbowing
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NEW YORK (Feb. 19, 2016) – Toronto Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov has been suspended for three games, without pay, for elbowing New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh during NHL game No. 860 in Toronto on Thursday, Feb. 18, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.

The incident occurred at 18:58 of the first period. Komarov was assessed a match penalty for illegal check to the head.

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, Komarov will forfeit $47,580.66. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.


The hit Komarov delivered was dangerous. He clearly led with the elbow catching a prone McDonagh right in the jaw knocking him to the ice. He stayed on the bench to end the first period and then didn’t return for precautionary reasons.

Even scarier, the Ranger captain had just returned Wednesday after missing four games due to a concussion he sustained after taking a Wayne Simmonds gloved punch to the jaw. Simmonds was also given a match penalty but didn’t face any further supplementary discipline. In that case, Simmonds took a McDonagh hi-stick and crosscheck to the head before retaliating.

Komarov’s brutal elbow was more cut and dry. This was a clear example of what the NHL wants to eliminate. All head shots should come under heavy scrutiny. While Simmonds got nothing for his sucker punch, they gave Komarov three games.

In my opinion, any head shot should be a minimum of five with a review determining whether it should be a longer sentence. If they want to send a message, the DOPS needs to be more consistent and have stiffer penalties. That is the only way players will learn.

Regarding McDonagh’s status, it remains unknown. The Rangers had a day off. They return to practice tomorrow. Hopefully, it won’t be as feared. He takes too much abuse from opponents. There also was the Alex Burrows’ cheap shot in Vancouver that separated his shoulder. It would be nice if he was more protected. But unless Alain Vigneault is open to trying Dylan McIlrath with McDonagh to ride shotgun as The Journal News’ Rick Carpiniello suggested, opponents will continue to target the Rangers’ top defenseman.

For his part, the suspended Komarov made a public apology:

That’s good to see. He should also call up McDonagh and check on him. It doesn’t change what happened. Komarov is a tough customer who takes the body. He ranks third in hits with 245. He isn’t know for being dirty like Flyers’ defenseman Radko Gudas, who has twice escaped punishment for controversial hits. He is fourth with 219 hits

Something must change. The NHL must find consistency. Punish these guys and make them accountable. Enough nonsense.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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