Tyson Strachan could be facing suspension after a blindside hit on Jason Chimera in the second period of Thursday night’s game. The Florida Panthers defenseman was given a five-minute major penalty for interference and a game misconduct.
Chimera released the puck and did not appear to see Strachan coming in the neutral zone with 8:57 elapsed in the second. Strachan led with his left shoulder and struck Chimera, who did not expect contact.
“A guy’s not looking at you and it really didn’t have any effect on the play,” Washington Capitals defenseman Steve Oleksy said. “It’s tough as a player, but you’ve got to try to find a way to get out of the way on that play. You know a guy’s vulnerable when you’re coming across there and you’ve got to try to make an effort to get out of the way.”
Chimera was down on the ice for some time before being helped up. He skated off under his own power and then went down the tunnel. The Caps forward returned for two shifts in the rest of the second period and then seven more in the third.
“I think it’s a little late. I do,” coach Adam Oates said. “I’m glad Chimer’s OK. The most important thing.”
Chimera was not made available to reporters after the Caps’ 7-1 victory. But a few of his teammates who saw the hit right away or on replay spoke for him.
“To me it looked like it was an elbow, once I saw the replay,” forward Matt Hendricks said. “It looked like Jason was looking up ice to see where the puck went, and Strachan came through with what looked like could have been a clean hit, but I think he got his elbow up high.”
It was not immediately clear if Strachan would have a hearing with NHL vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan, though it would not be surprising if that announcement was forthcoming later Thursday night or Friday morning. Strachan, 28, was playing his 101th NHL game and has no prior history of suspensions at this level.
“It’s a moot point whatever the comment by the coach is because that’s going to be handled on a different level,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. “A strong amount of respect for the league when they make decisions, and we’ll see how things play out.”
Chimera’s health was what most Caps players and Oates were worried about after the game. After taking contact to his head, the 33-year-old returned to the game after being examined by trainer Greg Smith.
“Smitty went and checked on him to make sure with the new rules, make sure he’s OK,” Oates said, referring to the NHL’s concussion protocol. “He came back, said he felt OK. Glad to hear it.”
Caps defenseman Karl Alzner, like a few others, said didn’t see the hit.
“I saw him back on the ice, and I was happy,” Alzner said. “I saw him between periods and he seemed OK, so I don’t really know what was hurt on him, whether it was his head or somewhere on his body, but I’m happy I saw him.”
Video of the hit: