SAN JOSE, CALIF. (AP) - The Los Angeles Kings know they will be without forward Jarret Stoll for one game for his blindside hit that knocked San Jose defender Ian White out of Game 1 of their first-round series.
The Sharks don’t know yet how long they will be without White, who missed practice Friday as he tries to recover from a head injury and is expected to miss at least one game.
“Obviously I’m disappointed with the decision,” Stoll said after practice Friday. “I don’t want to miss any games, whether it’s the regular season or especially the playoffs. I’m really disappointed with the decision, but I respect it.”
The hit in question came at the end of the first period with White trying to play the puck while facing the end boards behind his own net. Stoll hit him from behind, appearing to drive his head into the glass with his forearm.
There was no penalty called on the play, but that did not help Stoll escape punishment.
“It was a dirty hit,” said Sharks enforcer Ben Eager, who fought with Kyle Clifford on the ensuing faceoff. “I don’t see how you could watch the replay and see it and not see it as a dirty hit. He had his back to him the whole time. Hopefully Whitey is all right.”
“I hope he’s OK,” Stoll said. “You never want to see a guy get knocked out or have a concussion or miss any time. I missed a lot of time with a concussion years back and I know what it feels like. I definitely don’t want to put anyone in that situation. He’s a good player.”
The suspension angered Kings management, with assistant general manager Ron Hextall saying hockey is a physical game and sometimes injuries happen and coach Terry Murray upset that Sharks defenseman Jason Demers wasn’t punished at all for a hit later in the game on Ryan Smyth.
“That other hit is five times more severe, more intentional, traveling distance, launching yourself two to three feet off the ice and a blow to the head,” he said. “That is a major longtime suspension.”
The league did not see it that way and now the Kings must try to even up the series after a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 1 without their second-line center, who also plays important roles on the power play and penalty kill. Los Angeles is already without its top center, Anze Kopitar, who is sidelined by an ankle injury.
Now they must find a way to replace Stoll, who was their best faceoff man in Game 1 and teamed with Smyth and Justin Williams on Los Angeles’ most productive line in the opener.
Stoll was one of six 20-goal scorers for the Kings this season, posting 20 goals and 23 assists. The Kings, who scored the fewest goals of any playoff team in the regular season, are now missing two of their top offensive threats.