Blues' Lapierre banned 5 games for Dan Boyle hit
Forward had been suspended pending hearing
Maxim Lapierre was suspended five games on Friday for his hit against San Jose Sharks defenceman Dan Boyle on Tuesday night.
The National Hockey League had an in-person hearing with the St. Louis Blues forward in New York at noon ET.
Lapierre pushed Boyle face-first into the dasher board during the first period of San Jose’s 6-2 win at St. Louis.
He received a five-minute major penalty for checking from behind, five minutes for fighting and a game misconduct.
In a video explanation, NHL head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan said there was plenty to analyze in trying to determine the proper course of action.
"There are many things to consider on this play," he said. "...It's undeniable that Boyle's loss of balance just prior to contact made him much more vulnerable and contributed to the violent result. However, at no point does Lapierre see anything other than Boyle's numbers when he decides to finish him on this check.
"What's more, despite the fact that Boyle stumbled, which might have contributed to his vulnerability, the fact remains that if Lapierre does not illegally hit him in the numbers, Boyle's face does not crush violently into the boards."
Shanahan also cited Boyle's injury as a result of the boarding penalty as a contributing factor in the league's decision.
Lapierre, for his part, said earlier he was remorseful.
"You never want to see someone feel that way and, as tough as it is to look at for the fans and his teammates, I feel the same way," Lapierre told reporters in St. Louis.
Lapierre, who was fined $14,000 US and had been suspended pending Friday's hearing, apologized to Boyle through the media following Wednesday's practice.
"I don't want to comment on the hit, except to say there's no excuse. … Obviously, it's a bad situation for me to try to explain. The guy's on a stretcher, nobody wants to see that.
"I didn't jump or try to go for his head," contined Lapierre. "I was just trying to finish my hit. … The only thing I want to focus on is that hopefully he gets better."
Lapierre will lose $28,205.15 in salary under terms of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, all of which will go to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
Boyle leaves on stretcher
Boyle was carted off the ice at ScottradeCenter on a stretcher and did not return to the game.
In a Sharks news release Wednesday, the team said Boyle was kept at Barnes-Jewish Hospital overnight and would return to San Jose later Wednesday “to continue his medical care and undergo further evaluation.”
"That was scary," Boyle wrote in a text message to a San Jose Mercury News reporter. "Hopefully the symptoms will be very minor, if any, going forward."
After Tuesday's game, Sharks forward Joe Pavelski, referring to Lapierre, said "idiots will be idiots." Teammate Logan Couture said Lapierre had talked about "coming after us" before the hit.
Lapierre is a yapper on the ice who plays a style of getting under the opponent's skin. He is also a repeat offender, having sat four games while playing for Montreal for a hit against the Sharks' Scott Nichol, who's also a former Blues forward.
"He's not trying to hurt anyone," said Lapierre's teammate, David Backes. "He's playing hard and unfortunately sometimes that happens. He's a guy who goes to war for us, and he's a critical part of our team."
With files from CBCSports.ca