Nicklas Backstrom said his piece about his one-game suspension swiftly, in about a minute speaking with reporters. But all around him, the Washington Capitals shared their thoughts, and not surprisingly most were not happy about NHL VP of player safety Brendan Shanahan’s decision.
“Sometimes you think it’s right decision, sometimes it’s not, sometimes you want to laugh,” captain Alex Ovechkin said. “So right now I think it’s kind of bad decision. But there is nothing you can do.”
The team released a statement on the suspension in an email sent to reporters early Wednesday afternoon:
“We disagree with the NHL’s decision to suspend Nicklas Backstrom. This has been a competitive and physical series, and we do not understand why a suspension was imposed in this case while other incidents in this series have not been reviewed. Our singular focus now is on Game 4, and we look forward to the energy that our great fans provide.”
Defenseman Karl Alzner believed Backstrom cross-checked Boston Bruins forward Rich Peverley to the face by accident but still was not surprised by the suspension.
“Not really. See for yourself, it doesn’t look good,” Alzner said. “I haven’t heard any of the reasoning why it’s a game, why it’s not more games, why it’s [not] no games. I haven’t heard any of the explanation. That’s kind of what we were expecting: match penalty.”
Coach Dale Hunter was already trying to spin things forward to Game 4 without Backstrom.
“Definitely we’re going to miss him. We did our side of it. We don’t think he should be suspended. But their side says he gets suspended for one game,” Hunter said. “Well, it’s disappointing, but he’s suspended, so it’s in the history books and we have to concentrate tomorrow.”
Most teammates said Backstrom had a little bit of a right to be frustrated, given the way the Bruins were giving him a beating.
“You have to be careful now these days. It’s unfortunate for us that it happened at the end of the game and the game’s already over,” veteran right wing Mike Knuble said. “Nicky had a tough night and was a target of a lot of stuff after the whistle and I guess he was defending himself. Can’t blame a guy that’s been out 40 games with a head issue wanting to defend himself and saying enough is enough.”