Adam Oates reacted to John Erskine’s three-game suspension with a bit of surprise, but he didn’t argue with the rational of the NHL or VP of player safety Brendan Shanahan.
Shanahan acknowledged “no malicious intent” but called Erskine’s elbow to the head of Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds “reckless.”
“You know what? Tough for him, obviously,” the Washington Capitals coach said of the suspension. “He’s never been suspended before. I’m a little surprised it’s three, quite honestly, but I’ve got nothing, no say in it.”
Asked if he was OK with Shanahan’s explanation for three games, Oates offered no opinion.
“I have no choice, quite honestly,” he said.
Tom Poti replaced Erskine on the blue line for Sunday afternoon’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He got the nod over Roman Hamrlik.
“Because we’re still evaluating Tom,” Oates said. “Before he got hurt, he was a top-four defenseman, and we’re obviously looking for him to regain that. When the other guys stepped in, they played well, so that’s why they were playing, and Tom got a chance to watch and get some more conditioning and practices with the NHL speed, so hopefully he can step right in.”