The incident occurred when the Senators hosted the Sharks on Wednesday. Hoffman entered San Jose’s zone with the puck and was pushed on to his knees by Couture. After passing the puck to a teammate, Hoffman went to the front of the net and delivered a high cross-check that found the back of Couture’s head.
Hoffman argued that his cross-check rode up the stick of Shark’s defenceman Brenden Dillon who was using his stick to defend against Hoffman’s move to the front of the net.
“We agree with Hoffman’s assertion that his stick rides up the stick of Dillon slightly, which may contribute to this cross-check being delivered to Couture’s head rather than his upper back,” said an NHL spokesperson in a player safety decision video. “Ultimately, players are responsible for their sticks at all times.”
Tensions were already high in the game after Shark's defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic allegedly speared Senators captain Erik Karlsson in the face. The league also announced on Friday that Vlasic received a $5,000 fine for the incident.