John Erskine was suspended three games by the NHL for elbowing Wayne Simmonds in the head on Friday night, NHL VP of player safety Brendan Shanahan announced Saturday night.
The rugged Washington Capitals defenseman “recklessly” elbowed the Philadelphia Flyers forward in the first period Friday, Shanahan said in the video announcing the suspension. Shanahan recognized there was “no malicious intent” on Erskine’s behalf on the play.
“Erskine and Simmonds are pursuing a 50/50 puck in the Philadelphia zone,” Shanahan said. “When Erskine realizes he is going to get beat, he tries to get a piece of his opponent to prevent an outnumbered rush. However, in doing so he raises his elbow, striking Simmonds in the face. This is elbowing.”
Shanahan noted that Erskine was not a repeat offender and that Simmonds was injured on the play and did not return. No penalty was called on the play.
The 6-foot-4 defenesman will forfeit $24,324.33 in salary as a result of the suspension.
Erskine, 32, will not be able to play Sunday vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tuesday vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs and Thursday at the Penguins. Expect Tom Poti to replace him in the lineup Sunday.
Earlier Saturday, Erskine’s teammates defended him as not a “dirty player.”
Simmonds missed the Flyers’ game Saturday night because of head and neck injuries.
FULL TRANSCRIPT OF BRENDAN SHANAHAN VIDEO:
“Friday night in Washington, Capitals defenseman John Erskine recklessly elbowed Wayne Simmonds in the face, injuring the Philadelphia Flyers forward. As the video shows, Erskine and Simmonds are pursuing a 50/50 puck in the Philadelphia zone. When Erskine realizes he is going to get beat, he tries to get a piece of his opponent to prevent an outnumbered rush. However, in doing so he raises his elbow, striking Simmonds in the face. This is elbowing.
“As the two men approach the puck, Erskine looks up and clearly is aware of Simmonds’ proximity before delivering the illegal hit. While we acknowledge there was no malicious intent and that Erskine was reacting to getting beat, this nevertheless is a reckless elbow to the head that caused a serious injury.
“To summarize, this was elbow. Erskine is not a repeat offender. Simmonds was injured as a result of the hit and was unable to return to the game.
“The department of player safety has decided to suspend John Erskine for three games.”
And here’s the video: