Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Wild rookie Charlie Coyle off the hook for major penalty

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news, Wild practice Updated: February 27, 2013 - 5:15 PM
UPDATED
 
Rookie Charlie Coyle will not be suspended by the NHL for his “elbowing” major on Matt Stajan in last night’s 2-1 overtime victory over Calgary, sources say.
 
All majors are reviewed by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, but when there is no hearing, it usually means the NHL felt the head was not targeted or was not the principal point of contact.
 
League disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan called Coyle to talk to him about the hit though, sources say.
 
Some were saying on Twitter last night that the check was a perfect example of Rule 48 – Illegal Check to the Head. But as is explicitly written in Rule 48 (a rule that some hockey writers have trouble grasping despite its adoption two years ago), the head must be BOTH targeted AND the principal point of contact.
 
According to the video, the principal point of contact in this case appeared to be Coyle’s shoulder to Stajan’s upper chest. While there is significant contact to Stajan’s chin after the fact, Coyle doesn’t go out of his way to hit the head and makes a full body check – two criteria the league uses when determining discipline.
 
While the hit may have been late, that alone is not grounds for suspension.
 
The Wild practiced here in Arizona today, and frankly, who knows if this was the team's final practice ever here with the ownership situation still up in the air and potential relocation to perhaps Seattle looming.
 
Same first two lines heading into Thursday's game at Phoenix with Mikael Granlund moving to the third line with Dany Heatley and Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Kyle Brodziak moving to the fourth with Mike Rupp and Torrey Mitchell. Coach Mike Yeo looks to use four lines against the Coyotes and Brodziak will still be integral on big faceoffs and the penalty kill.
 
Brodziak ranks 11th in the NHL with a .561 faceoff win percentage (minimum 200 faceoffs) and the Wild is the now the second-best faceoff team in the NHL.
 
I'll be writing about the Wild's stingy defense in Thursday's paper. It's been overshadowed with all the talk of the scoring woes. Talk Thursday.
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