A concussion and lower-body injury, incurred on the same malicious hit from Calgary’s Mark Giordano on Aho, deserved a suspension handed from the NHL.
The NHL made it a priority to lock down on cheap shots and dirty hits in the past decade. Since the lockout that canceled out the 2004-05 campaign, the checking rules is a large and noticeable change in how each game is officiated and even played by some of the toughest players. Mark Giordano is a tough defender who inserted himself into this discussion.
Threat of suspension, fines, and dealing with the opponent’s “tough guy” tends to keep the bulk of the players in the league in check now. However, there’s always going to be times that the league has to deal with some controversial hits that defy the newer rules in place.
Three recent plays this season stick out as the best examples of case studies on how the league can handle player suspensions. The incident with the greatest significance was a sucker punch from Arizona Coyotes forward Zac Rinaldo on Colorado Avalanche defenseman Daniel Girardi.
That earned Rinaldo a six-game suspension, and a match penalty and game misconduct (after it happened in real time). Rinaldo had what will likely amount to the play with the least awareness and aggression of any that takes place this season.
Another hit worth highlighting is Edmonton Oilers forward Patrick Maroon putting an visibly intentional elbow into the head of Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. Maroon also fought Doughty which likely contributed to his match penalty and suspension.
Here’s a look at the hits involving Maroon on Doughty and Giordano on Sebastian Aho.