Wild veteran left wing Mike Rupp has been suspended four games -- the final regular-season game Sunday against Nashville and three playoff games -- for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie on Thursday night. He forfeits $7,692.31 in salary.

Rupp was assessed a match penalty midway through the second period for "attempt to injure." Replays showed Oshie had given up the puck when Rupp came by with what the league considers a classic head pick. Rupp's left shoulder hit Oshie's head with that being the principle point of contract -- the chief criteria for an illegal check to the head. Basically, for Rupp to make this hit, the puck needs to be on Oshie's stick and there needs to be full body contact.

Here is video of the league explaining its decision.

Rupp was an easy target for the league to send a message on because like I said last night, Rupp was playing probably his final regular-season game, his 13th of the season. It is unlikely the Wild plans to play Rupp in the playoffs considering he hadn't played since Feb. 1 and played four games since Dec. 31.

If Rupp can't find a job this summer, it'll be a shame if that was the final play of what has been a good career.

This was Rupp's first suspension by the NHL and although he has long been a tough customer, he has done it in a mostly honest fashion. Knowing Rupp, I don't believe he intended to injure Oshie. But he undoubedly messed up. Oshie left the game hurt and isn't playing tonight in Dallas.

Former Wild center Wes Walz sent out a couple tweets (see below) that ticked off Blues fans and Ken Hitchcock today, but the one point he makes that is accurate? No chance Rupp plays last night if the Blues didn't run around last game taking runs as Mikael Granlund, Jared Spurgeon and Darcy Kuemper. It was a continuation of a trend in many Wild games in St. Louis in recent years. This is the story on the St. Louis Dispatch web site that ran the morning of the game in St. Louis a few weeks ago. The Blues tried to send Minnesota a message, the Wild was physically outplayed that game in St. Louis, so the Wild responded by putting Rupp in during the rematch to protect its players and supply muscle. No chance the Wild wanted Rupp to take off Oshie's head, but last game's physicality by St. Louis is why the Wild felt the need to play Rupp yesterday.

Disagree all you want, but that's the facts.

By the way, if the Avalanche beats San Jose tonight and St. Louis loses in regulation at Dallas, Colorado would win the Central and the Wild's first-round opponent would be Anaheim or Colorado. Right now, the first-round opponent can be Anaheim, St. Louis or Colorado.

Lastly, ...

The American Hockey League announced today that Jake Dowell of the Iowa Wild has been named the 2013-14 winner of the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award as the AHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.

The award is voted on by coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 30 cities.

Dowell has served as captain of the Wild during the team’s first season in Iowa while also dealing with personal tragedy. Dowell’s father, John, passed away in February after a lengthy battle with Huntington’s disease, a debilitating genetic neurological disorder which also affects his older brother, Luke. Dowell’s openness about his family’s fight with Huntington’s disease and his advocacy for a cure has brought national awareness to the cause, while Dowell and his Wild teammates have taken part in charity drives and fundraisers for research.

A native of Eau Claire, Wis., Dowell has remained a leader on the ice in Des Moines throughout his trying season, appearing in 54 games with Iowa as well as one with the Wild’s NHL affiliate in Minnesota, with whom he is currently on recall. The seventh-year pro out of the University of Wisconsin has played 157 career games in the NHL with Chicago, Dallas and Minnesota, along with 302 career AHL contests with Iowa, Houston, Rockford and Norfolk. He was originally drafted by the Blackhawks in 2004.

This award, which was first presented by the AHL in 1978, honors the late Fred T. Hunt, a long-time contributor to the league who won three Calder Cup championships as a player and three more as a general manager during a career spent primarily with the AHL’s Buffalo Bisons and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. Previous winners of the award include Ross Yates (1983), Glenn Merkosky (1987, ’91), Bruce Boudreau (1988), Murray Eaves (’89, ’90), John Anderson (1992), Tim Tookey (1993), Ken Gernander (1996, 2004), Randy Cunneyworth (2000), Mike Keane (2007), Ajay Baines (2009), Casey Borer (2010), Bryan Helmer (2011), Chris Minard (2012) and Brandon Davidson (2013).

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