This is a unique situation for the Department of Player Safety. Normally, you try and find comparable plays to any potentially suspendable situation.
However, if you go back and look at charging suspensions the last six years — Carson Soucy (one game); Kevin Shattenkirk (two); Paul Byron, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Brayden Schenn (three); Cody Eakin (four) — there is nothing remotely comparable to Mark Scheifele’s hit on Jake Evans.
Scheifele has a clean sheet, no suspension history. But, he clearly lost control of his emotions and delivered a bad hit. If he tries to play the puck, maybe we’re talking a different outcome and/or perception. As Cassie Campbell-Pascall showed, you could tell when Scheifele left the ice that he’d come to the realization of what had happened.
Rule 42.1 reads as follows: “Charging shall mean the actions of a player who, as a result of distance travelled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner. A charge may be the result of a check into the boards, into the goal frame or in open ice.
That describes the play, and gives the Department of Player Safety wide latitude.
Earlier this season, Tom Wilson was suspended seven games for boarding even though he didn’t hit Boston Bruins defenceman Brandon Carlo from behind. It was the first time a player was suspended for boarding under those circumstances. That rule is written in such a way that the Department of Player Safety felt it allowed for this interpretation, and Wilson did not appeal.
Scheifele does not have Wilson’s history. But, when that happened, a few people around the league wondered if it would mean more different interpretations and new precedents.
We could be seeing that here. The charging rule certainly allows for it.