While the Washington Capitals organization expressed displeasure about the three-game suspension the NHL handed down to Alex Ovechkin, players were more upset that Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek got no suspension or fine for an elbow to the head of Matt Hendricks.
“It looked like an elbow to Hendy’s head, so I don’t understand what the difference is, whether it’s a repeat offender,” forward Jeff Halpern said. “A hit to the head is still a hit to the head.”
It’s believed that the NHL ruled that Michalek’s knee buckled upon hitting Hendricks, causing him to lose balance.
“[And] elbow me in the head?” Hendricks responded.
Hendricks admitted he hadn’t watched the play on tape yet.
“I just know the position that I was in when I took the hit,” he said. “I was in a pretty vulnerable spot.”
Michalek called it a “hockey play,” though it was one that earned him a two-minute minor penalty for elbowing.
Hendricks preferred to allow his Caps teammates to speak about the elbow and lack of suspension. Upon being told they were surprised, he said: “I am, too, for the most part.”
The Caps addressed it plenty, even though some, like right wing Troy Brouwer, took the politically correct approach.
“I’m not going to say one way or another whether he should’ve got suspended,” Brouwer said. “I feel it was a dirty play; he got penalized for it, and it’s up to the league to review it. We’ve had enough questionable suspensions, I feel, over the course of the year that they’re setting the standard and sometimes it’s tough to walk that line.”
Defenseman Karl Alzner was wondering, like many, why Michalek did not get punished for the hit.
“We have our theories of why there wasn’t another suspension there. But we don’t get to make those calls,” he said. “You’ve got to forget about it. You can’t worry about it too much, because there’s nothing you can do about it now.”
Asked what said “theories” were, Alzner smiled.
“We shouldn’t say,” he said.