A new replay shows that Coyle — one of the NHL’s best a drawing penalties — got a stick up high on Keith earlier in the play.
Seconds prior to the incident that could get Keith suspended for more than five games, Coyle is seen getting at Keith’s face with a cross-check and then slamming him to the ice.
Still, Keith’s blatant stick to the face is not a justified response. The replay does give some context for the play and the source of the defenceman’s anger.
Coyle told reporters there is no place in the game for Keith’s slash.
“I was just stunned that it happened. You don’t expect that ever in a game,” Coyle said. “No matter what happens in a game you should never swing your stick at someone’s face like that. There’s no room for that, and I’m sure he [Keith] wants to take that back. Heat of the moment thing… that’s how it happened.”
Coyle was not whistled for a penalty on the play, but it will be interesting to find out if his actions are used by the Blackhawks in the Keith hearing.