Tuesday night, Eric Gryba crunched Artem Anisimov in the second period of the Senators 5-2 win over the Blue Jackets. The hit wasn’t pretty:
Anisimov did not return and Gryba ended up with a game misconduct.
For Gryba, the question inevitably turns towards whether a suspension is coming. He did not appear to target Anisimov’s head. Furthermore, Anisimov had his head down, and certainly was in the vicinity of the puck.
But does that matter? Here’s the infamous rule 48.1:
Illegal Check to the Head – A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable is not permitted. In determining whether contact with an opponent's head was avoidable, the circumstances of the hit including the following shall be considered:
(i) Whether the player attempted to hit squarely through the opponent’s body and the head was not "picked" as a result of poor timing, poor angle of approach, or unnecessary extension of the body upward or outward.
(ii) Whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position by assuming a posture that made head contact on an otherwise full body check unavoidable.
That he didn’t specifically target the head doesn’t matter. But Anisimov having his head down does. On the other hand, Gryba’s skates do slightly leave the ice, (viewable at 1:03 of the above video) and he certainly appears to be aiming high which could mean he's in violation of the "poor angle of approach" or "unneccessary extension of the body upwards or outward" aspects, even if he’s not specifically aiming at the head.
It also probably doesn’t help that Gryba did this before:
In fact, you can argue that his hit on Lars Eller is a carbon copy of the one on Anisimov, except that one happened in open ice rather than close to the boards. Gryba got two games for the Eller hit.
One could see a scenario that the league had additional punishment on Gryba. However, given his history, it would seem another suspension is in his future.
UPDATE: Or not. Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch says Gryba won't get any additional punishment:
It was borderline, but it is a little surprising, given Gryba's history and the fact Anisimov didn't return. But it is what it is. The NHL wheel of justice spins on.