For those who missed it or are unaware, Dion Phaneuf had a phone hearing earlier today with the NHL for his hit from behind on Boston’s Kevin Miller. To be honest, from my vantage, the hit looked fairly clean and accidental. However Miller did lose his balance and was forced head first into the end-boards due to the timing of the hit. For Dion this is a first-time offence and suspension, which probably is the reason the suspension was limited to two games.
The decision was reached by Brendan Shanahan who concluded that Dion could have entirely avoided the check or at least minimized the contact. When pressed on the issue, Phaneuf was not pleased but has no choice but to accept the disciplinary two game suspension. The suspension costs him $66,000 in forfeited salary, which will be donated to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. This is a tough pill to swallow for the Leafs who do play some tough Western Conference opponents in the LA Kings tomorrow night (Wed.) and the Nashville Predators the following night in a back-to-back situation.
Dion hasn’t missed a game for injury or suspension since early in the 2010-2011 season and is currently averaging more than 24 minutes of ice-time this season with the Buds. The leafs will need to create a new pairing for Gunarsson and I would expect it to be Cody Franson, although Jake Gardiner has seen his play improve as of late.
The good news for Toronto is that Joffrey Lupul seems intent on returning to the frozen surface as early as tomorrow’s game. Lupul had been dealing with a Groin Strain he suffered approximately two weeks ago. Doctors had given him a 2-3 week timetable, so tommorow’s game may not be a stretch. When asked about his progress, Joffrey seemed upbeat and eager to hit the ice. The team is in desperate need of his ability to score and sets up a key part of the Leaf’s offensive attack system.