Coyotes’ Zac Rinaldo waives right to in-person hearing with NHL

Arizona Coyotes' forward Zac Rinaldo gets ejected after sucker punching Colorado Avalanche rookie Samuel Girard and a brawl ensues.

Arizona Coyotes forward Zac Rinaldo waived his right to an in-person hearing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced Tuesday. Instead, a phone hearing will be conducted Wednesday to determine whether or not Rinaldo will face supplemental discipline for sucker-punching rookie defenceman Samuel Girard in a game against the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night.

In-person hearings are only offered when an incident may require a suspension of six or more games, so Rinaldo is eligible for a lengthy ban if the the league feels his actions warrant one.

As you can see from the video at the top of the page, Rinaldo hit Nathan MacKinnon with an open-ice body check near centre ice midway through the second period of what ended up being a 6-2 Avalanche win. Then a couple seconds later he punched Girard with his bare fist as the 19-year-old skated by.

Girard was taken off the ice and examined during a mandatory concussion protocol assessment and was able to return to the game. Rinaldo, 27, received a match penalty for the incident plus a fighting major for dropping the gloves with Avalanche blueliner Erik Johnson, who came to the defence of Girard.

Rinaldo is no stranger to supplemental discipline having been suspended a handful of times in the NHL since 2012.

On Feb. 13, 2012 he was suspended two games for charging Red Wings defenceman Jonathan Ericsson. On April 7, 2014 he got four games for injuring Sabres defenceman Chad Ruhwedel with a hit to the head. On Jan. 26, 2015 he received an eight-game ban for charging and boarding Penguins defenceman Kris Letang. On March 1, 2016 he was handed a five-game suspension for an illegal hit on Lightning forward Cedric Paquette. He was sent down to the AHL before sitting out any NHL games and since he spent the entire 2016-17 campaign with the AHL’s Providence Bruins, he did not serve this suspension until October of this year after signing with the Coyotes.

Rinaldo has two goals, one assist and 32 penalty minutes (including the 15 he got Saturday) in 31 games with the Coyotes this season. The Mississauga, Ont., native has accumulated 687 penalty minutes in 306 career regular-season NHL games.

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