On the list of players bothered most by Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist’s six-game suspension for his dangerous spear to the face of Wild defender Jared Spurgeon last Sunday, Bruins energy winger Zac Rinaldo, who has been by all means banished to the AHL, seems pretty high up there.
With the geotags of the tweets reminding you where Rinaldo skates these days, the 26-year-old first engaged with Brian McGrattan’s tweet criticizing the perceived different sets of rules for different players, and then offered his thoughts on what would happen to him if he committed such a penalty.
On the surface, Rinaldo is not wrong. This was as vicious as it gets. It was malicious as hell.
“While we accept Nyquist’s explanation that he did not intend to spear an opponent in the face, there are two factors that elevate this incident to a level more serious than merely accidental or reckless,” the NHL Department of Player Safety said in their explanation. “First as Nyquist conceded he is attempting to use his stick in a retaliatory fashion. Second, no matter how he specifically intended to retaliate with his stick, Nyquist is completely responsible for using his stick to deliver a blow that was extremely dangerous and easily could have resulted in a major if not career-threatening injury.”
A potentially ‘career-threatening injury’ is worth just six games, and you can’t help but feel as if the fact that Nyquist is a pivotal player that has twice scored at least 27 goals in a season helped keep that figure below 10 games (or a similar figure that would have been considered ‘throwing the book’).
At the same time, the biggest difference between Nyquist and a player like Rinaldo is that this is Nyquist’s first run-in with the league while Rinaldo has been suspended four times in his NHL career.
In fact, the 26-year-old Rinaldo, who has scored five goals and two assists in 29 games for the Providence Bruins this season and is an unrestricted free agent this coming summer, faces a five-game suspension upon his next NHL recall for a Feb. 2016 hit to the Lightning’s Cedric Paquette.