Some found it to be entertaining, some found it painful, and some found it malicious. No matter what you call it, the American Hockey League calls Viktor Loov’s hit from Sunday night one thing; suspendible. The Toronto Marlies will miss two games for his contact with Zach Nastasiuk.
The Official Press Release:
SPRINGFIELD, Mass – The American Hockey League today announced that Toronto Marlies defenseman Viktor Loov has been suspended for two games as a consequence of a math penalty for an illegal check to the head of an opponent, assessed in Game 2 of their Western Conference quarterfinal playoff series vs. Grand Rapids on April 26. Loov will [miss] Toronto’s next two playoff games, beginning with Game 3 of the series Wednesday (Apr. 29) at Grand Rapids.
Loov’s hit has caused a lot of debate amongst fans, to the point that it’s been discussed beyond the Toronto and Grand Rapids hockey communities. The general consensus is that Loov lead with his shoulder and made head contact due to Nastasiuk’s crouched position, but that it was still a blindside hit nonetheless. Combine this with the unknown status of Nastasiuk heading into tomorrow and it’s no surprise that there was supplemental punishment given, whether you agree with it or not.
This Leafs the Marlies in an interesting position for the next few games. They have to now defend one of their best skaters on the point, who can provide both offensive prowess and intimidation. Available to them are Eric Knodel, Rinat Valiev, Matt Finn, and Stuart Percy. Knodel was just eliminated from the ECHL playoffs last night, Valiev hasn’t only two pro games under his belt, and the latter two have struggled with injuries over the past few months and might not be 100%, though Gord Dineen wouldn’t confirm whether Percy’s scratch on Sunday was a healthy one rather than due to injury.
In the best case scenario, the Marlies win tomorrow and Loov returns for the second game of the second round. In the worst case scenario, Grand Rapids ties the series and he returns for the deciding Game Five. Whatever the case, this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Swedish rookie this year, though he might be a bit more selective when he throws the body moving forward.
Photo Courtesy of Christian Bonin / TSGPhoto.com