Wild left winger Mike Rupp was suspended four games — the last regular-season game Sunday against Nashville and the first three playoff games — for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie on Thursday night.
Oshie was injured on the play and missed Friday’s game at Dallas. It was Rupp’s first suspension in 11 years.
The NHL explained video evidence showed that “well after Oshie releases the puck, Rupp drives his left shoulder into Oshie’s head, making it the main point of contact and causing an injury. This is both an illegal check to the head and interference.
“If [Rupp] wants to attempt to hit Oshie, he must do so within the allowable time frame and in a legal manner. He does neither. Rupp hits Oshie at a point when he is no longer eligible to be hit. And in doing so, he takes an angle that picks Oshie’s head.”
Rupp, 34, who has played 13 games this season and is in the last year of his deal, was playing for the first time since Feb. 1. He lost $7,692.31 in salary.
He was not expected to see much action — if any — in the playoffs. Rupp can continue to practice with the team.
After the incident, Wild coach Mike Yeo protected core players Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Ryan Suter and Jason Pominville by not playing them for much of the third period. The Blues were criticized for not having much of a response to Rupp’s action.
“Well, [Yeo] took those players off the ice that could have got hurt,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “What are you going to do? The guy gets kicked out of the game. Nobody anticipates that that’s going to happen, that a guy’s going to go headhunting a guy. What are you going to do? Who are you going to chase around?
“If you’re going to run around and retaliate every time somebody gets hit, that’s what you’re going to spend the whole game doing. I thought that’s what we did after it was over. We were running around just trying to kill people. [Steve Ott] took a 10-minute misconduct because of it.”