Washington Capitals defenceman Mike Green was suspended for three games after a disciplinary hearing on Saturday for delivering an elbow to the head of Panthers' forward Michael Frolik.
"I don't know how to react anymore," Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau told the Sporting News. "I'm very upset about it. But what can you do?... I better say nothing. I'm just livid about the whole thing."
Capitals forward and NHLPA representative Brooks Laich had a different take on the play and the suspension, especially in light of recent developments in the Canadian Hockey League.
"Obviously we don't want to lose Greenie," Laich told the Washington Post. "At some point you have to take control of the game and protect the players. You see what happened in junior hockey [with Patrice Cormier]. At some point you have to make a statement where there's not a gray area. You can't hit to the head. It's black or white. You hit to the head you're going to get suspended."
Green had a very eventful game against the Panthers Friday which ended with him leaving the contest with what the team is describing as a "charley horse."
The Calgary native collided with Panthers' defenceman Dmitry Kulikov with just over three minutes remaining in the second period in what appeared to be a knee-on-knee collision.
Green had to be helped off the ice and was not putting any weight on his injured leg.
He briefly returned to the Capitals' bench in the third period but left for the dressing room once again shortly thereafter. Following the game Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau downplayed the injury, claiming it was just a charley horse.
"I assume he'll be playing Sunday," Boudreau told reporters after the game. "He came out there as you saw and he felt fine but we didn't want to take any chances."
Green himself said he didn't believe the injury was too severe.
"We'll see. I can't really tell right now," Green told the Washington Post. "It's not serious, but we'll see."
The NHL on TSN panel did not feel as though Kulikov intentionally attempted to injure Green.
"In Dmitry Kulikov's case, we are talking about a player that has missed 14 games this season with arthroscopic knee surgery," said TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger. "That doesn't strike me as the type of player that would do something like that intentionally."
While the panel did not believe that there would be any additional discipline for Kulikov, the same cannot be said for Green. Earlier in the game the Caps' defenceman was involved in another incident when he appeared to nail Panthers' forward Michael Frolik with an elbow to the head. Green received a two minute elbowing penalty on the play, however the league may well review the hit.
"There is nothing that is defensible about this play in my opinion," stated former player Ray Ferraro. "Green had been hit earlier in the shift. He closes in on Frolik and leads with his left elbow, hitting him directly in the jaw. To me it doesn't matter that Frolik got up, this, in my opinion is a suspendable play."
"The (league) will take a look at it and there will be a hearing," said Dreger.
Boudreau told reporters that he did not believe the hit was a suspendable offence.
"I think it was incidental," Boudreau said. "He didn't fling the elbow up at him."
The loss of Green for any amount of time would leave an enormous hole in the Capitals' lineup. The Calgary native quarterbacks the league's most potent power play and is leading all defencemen in goals with 12 and assists with 39.