The Washington Capitals have already played 47 games without Mike Green. Now they’ll have to play three more, as the defenseman was suspended three games by the NHL on Friday for a shot to the head of Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brett Connolly.
Green will miss Saturday’s game at the Boston Bruins, Sunday’s against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tuesday’s at the New York Islanders. He will forfeit $85,135.14 in salary.
The suspension comes as a result of Green’s arm to the head of Connolly in the second period Tuesday night.
“Connolly is carrying the puck behind the Washington net when he is angled and rubbed into the boards by Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov,” NHL vice preseident of player safety Brendan Shanahan said in announcing the suspension. “While Connolly is engaged with Orlov, Green approaches from the right of the two battling players. Green raises and drives his left arm into Connolly’s head with significant force, making it the principal point of contact and causing it to impact the glass.”
The head being the principal point of contact, coupled with Green’s three-game ban from 2010 and Connolly’s ability to return to the game factored into the length of this suspension.
Green was not made available for comment Thursday night or Friday morning before his hearing with the NHL. A team spokesman said he would be available to speak to reporters Saturday morning in Boston.
Replays made the hit look bad, especially one angle that shows just how much time Green had to deliver a blow to a defenseless player.
“When Green decides to commit to this check, Connolly already is bent over,” Shanahan said. “Green sees Connolly in this position; he then slows down, waits, loads up and targets Connolly’s head.”
Life without Green begins again Saturday, but it’s not a new thing for the Capitals.
“He’s been injured, so the team’s used to it because of the injury,” coach Dale Hunter said earlier Friday, before the league’s ruling was announced. “He’s mobile D, he can go back, get pucks, hook the net. We don’t spend as much time in our own end when he’s playing because he can skate so well and hook the net and make the outlet pass.”
Hunter said no decision had been made as to which defenseman would replace Green in the lineup. Healthy scratches John Erskine and Roman Hamrlik seem to be the leading candidates, though Tomas Kundratek and Kevin Marshall would be options if Washington called up a player from the Hershey Bears.
“There’s always injuries and situations where guys are out. I think obviously Hamrlik and Erskine are both very capable defensemen, have been around a long time,” defenseman Dennis Wideman said. “And I don’t think we have any concern about them coming into the lineup and doing a good job for us.”