Byfuglien suspended 4 games for ‘violent’ check

Dustin Byfuglien's cross-check on Tuesday has been called dumb, stupid, vicious and suspension-worthy. The Hockey Central panel doesn't disagree.

Dustin Byfuglien was suspended four games by the NHL’s department of player safety Thursday, and the ban could not have arrived at a worse time.

The Winnipeg Jets defenceman cross-checked unsuspecting New York Rangers forward J.T. Miller in the back of the head during the second period of the Rangers’ 3-2 victory Tuesday.

The 30-year-old Byfuglien tried to disguise the check as a consequence of falling, but replays show intent.

No penalty was assessed on the play, and Miller remained in the game.

Based on his average annual salary, Byfuglien will forfeit $111,827.96. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault made his opinion of the incident clear to reporters following the game.

“[It was] violent, deliberate, could have broken his neck,” Vigneault said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it was one of the most vicious cross-checks I’ve seen this year.”

Byfuglien, who represented Winnipeg at the All-Star Game this season, leads all Jets defencemen in goals (18) and points (45). He is also arguably the most intimidating physical presence in the league.

The Jets have dropped two straight games and maintain a tenuous two-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Kings have a game in hand.

Byfuglien will only be available to play in the final game of the Jets’ regular season, April 11 versus Calgary.

Because Byfuglien’s hearing was conducted over the phone, his suspension could not have exceeded five games.

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