Ottawa Senators' forward Nick Foligno has been fined by the NHL for his hit on Carolina's Patrick Dwyer in Thursday's win over the Hurricanes.
There was no penalty called on the play.
Foligno said he was only trying to play the puck and did not intend to injure Dwyer.
"I knew that it was kind of a vulnerable spot for him, and all I wanted to do was play the puck," said Foligno. "I remember keeping my arm by my side and trying to poke the puck and he was coming up the ice too, so he was going to run into me. My intent was never to hit him in the head, and it's unfortunate that it went that route."
Hurricanes coaches Paul Maurice and Ron Francis were upset about the lack of call.
"They felt that the hit was shoulder to shoulder," Maurice said after the game. "Unless Patty's [Dwyer] head is growing out of his armpit, I'm not sure how that is possible. [The referees] just missed it."NHL Insider Darren Dreger thought that Foligno's hit could have merited a suspension.
"There's no question it was blindside and it fits the criteria of lateral play as well," said Dreger.
NHL on TSN analyst Craig MacTavish went further.
"I think it's just cut and dry. It's blindside and it's to the head," said MacTavish. "If you have to ask the question whether it was dirty or whether it wasn't dirty, you know the answer."
Dwyer wasn't injured on the play but NHL on TSN analyst Michael Peca said he didn't think that should factor into the NHL's decision.
"Dwyer got up and played the game, but I still think you have to set the precedent that the hit was dirty and you still have to suspend him."
Senators coach Cory Clouston admitted it was a close call, but says after watching the hit a few times, he believes his player was just trying to finish his check.
"I watched Nicky's eyes, and he's not looking at the guy's head; he's looking at the puck," said Clouston. "His body position was more protecting the puck. If you know how Nicky plays, and we all do, that's a typical move for Nicky - he uses his body to protect the puck very well. To me, that's all he was doing. He didn't drill right through the guy, he didn't throw the elbow up."
Teammate Jason Spezza was quick to note Foligno's character.
"If you know Nicky, he's not a dirty player. I don't think he was head-hunting there," said Spezza. "I think it may even have caught his shoulder first. But obviously when stuff like that happens, there is a lot of talk about it. It's going to be analyzed and over-analyzed."
Foligno said he knows that headshots are under heavy watch in the NHL and understands the attention paid such hits.
"I thought I just did what I was supposed to do, I mean I just went for the puck more or less," said Foligno. "They say I made contact with his head, I don't really think that. But that's the part of the game they are trying to crack down on, and I understand they're going to make an example of it."