Buffalo’s Aaron Dell has been suspended for three games for Interference on Ottawa’s Drake Batherson. https://t.co/pXXthyGU6h
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) January 26, 2022
After Dell settled the puck behind the net for defenceman Mattias Samuelsson to pick up in the first period, the netminder shielded Samuelsson as Batherson came chasing around the net. Dell then proceeded to elbow Batherson, sending him awkwardly feet first into the boards.
Batherson, the Senators' top scorer this season, stayed on the ice in visible distress before going to the dressing room. He was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain.
"As Batherson attempts to cut around Dell and toward the puck carrier, Dell steps into his path, readies his arm and delivers a hard shoulder check that causes Batherson to fall dangerously and with force into the boards causing an injury. This is interference," said the NHL department of player safety in a video explaining the suspension.
"It is important to note that this is a body check, not merely a collision. Dell is looking up ice and is aware of the path Batherson is taking in order to avoid contact with Dell. Dell was the player who initiates the contact on this play. This is also not a mere pick play or a last-second brace for impact in which a player impedes the path of his opponent without substantial force. Dell takes an active step into Bathurst shifting his weight and delivering a hit to an unsuspecting player that causes a dangerous fall into the boards.
"Finally, it is also important to note that Batherson does not have the puck and is therefore not eligible to be checked on this play in any manner. Batherson does not and should not expect the shoulder check from Dell in this situation, much less, a high, hard shoulder."
No penalty was called on the play.
“Quite frankly, it was just a bulls--- play,” Senators captain Brady Tkachuk said after the game Tuesday. “What happened was unnecessary and dirty. You just feel for (Drake). He’s put in so much work to get to where he’s at. It definitely sucks.”
The NHL announced on Wednesday that Tkachuk will replace Batherson in the NHL All-Star Game on Feb. 5 in Las Vegas.
After the game, Dell insisted he did not intend to cause any harm on the play.
"I was just trying to buy some time for my defenceman and step into his lane," Dell said. "I hope he's all right. I wasn't trying to hurt anybody."
Dell has a history laying out that type of hit. In 2019, he took out Vegas Golden Knights forward Mark Stone in nearly identical fashion back when he manned the crease for the San Jose Sharks.
The Sabres already have used six starting goaltenders this season. Michael Houser is their only healthy goalie on an NHL contract.