Connor McDavid’s optimism faded quickly during Friday’s phone hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
“I have to be honest. I didn’t think I was going to be suspended at all going into the hearing,” McDavid said Saturday morning. “But after hearing their tone of voice and what-not, I had the sense it was going to go that way.”
McDavid was hit with a two-game ban for an illegal check to the head against New York Islanders defenceman Nick Leddy on Thursday night.
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“When I look at the actual hit itself, I though the contact started at the chest,” said Oilers Entertainment Group CEO Bob Nicholson. “There was a deflection into the head, but it was a slight deflection into the head.”
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid suspended 2 games for head shot
“I go to close on him to make a play on the puck and he just kind of shovels it and gets rid of it,” McDavid said of the play. “At that time, we’re going to run into each other either way. I braced myself. Obviously, he gets the worst of it.”
He said it was important to to protect himself first.
“If the roles were reversed and I’m going to extend myself to touch the puck, then he goes through me and now all of sudden we’re talking about me having a separated shoulder or a head injury.”
McDavid will miss Saturday’s home game against Anaheim and Monday’s game in Nashville. The Oilers also played without him against Arizona on Tuesday due to illness.
“From a coaching perspective, it’s kind of man-down. I really feel for Connor. It’s tough for all of us, but it’s two games. We just gotta keep going,” said head coach Ken Hitchcock. “We need to continue to play like we’ve been playing and give ourselves a chance to win.”
The Oilers will be trying to win back-to-back games for the first time since January 16. Catch the Oilers and Ducks on 630 CHED with the Face-off Show at 6:30 p.m. The game will start at 8 p.m.