A few hours before the San Jose Sharks take the ice against the Arizona Coyotes, they’ve learned that it will be without Erik Karlsson, who received a two-game suspension from the Department of Player Safety (DoPS) for his hit on Los Angeles Kings forward Austin Wagner.
During the second period, Karlsson delivered a high hit that resulted in an upper-body injury for Wagner, but it wasn’t surprising to learn that he had sustained a concussion after he struggled to get up and skate to the bench.
In their video explaining their decision to hand Karlsson a two-game suspension, the DoPS deemed that the high hit was avoidable and that the head was the principle point of contact, resulting in an illegal check to the head by their standards. Furthermore, the video explains Karlsson’s plea that his intention wasn’t Wagner’s head and that he was attempting to deliver a full-body hit.
San Jose’s Erik Karlsson has been suspended for two games for an illegal check to the head on Los Angeles’ Austin Wagner. https://t.co/Z0rvka0KQf— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) December 23, 2018
Nonetheless, the DoPS goes on to say that although there was shoulder contact, most of the impact was towards Wagner’s head. It also details that if Karlsson wanted to dish out this kind of hit, he must position himself at a better angle and hit through Wagner’s core, rather than aiming for his head.
Despite only having a fine from a slashing incident in 2012 to his record and no history of dirty plays on record (he was fined $2500 for a slash in 2014), Karlsson could not avoid suspension for the illegal check. The DoPS verdict was two games, so the Sharks will be without their star defense for tonight’s matchup against the Coyotes and Thursday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. It is likely Tim Heed or Joakim Ryan will slot back into the lineup in his place.
Karlsson will forfeit $69,892.48 in salary due to the suspension. The money will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund, per the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.