Sporting a couple of stitches on his swollen nose and a bit of a black eye, Charlie Coyle said it could be worse.
“They said it isn’t broken,’’ he said after Wild practice Wednesday. “Sure looks like it, though.’’
At 9:27 of the first period of the Wild’s victory over Chicago at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday night, after Coyle checked him to the ice, Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith swung his stick, hitting Coyle on the nose just below his left eye. Coyle skated to the bench with blood streaming down his face. Keith was assessed a match penalty for intent to injure, which comes with an ejection and an automatic suspension pending a league review before the Blackhawks play again, which is Friday.
“I was stunned that it happened,” Coyle said. “You don’t expect that, ever, in a game.’’
Keith has been offered an in-person hearing with the NHL’s department of player safety. That means a suspension that could be six or more games. Considering Chicago has only five regular-season games left, that suspension could carry over into the playoffs.
Keith’s record could hurt him. He was suspended five games in 2012 for elbowing Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin. In the 2013 Western Conference finals, he was suspended a game for a retaliatory high stick on Los Angeles’ Jeff Carter.
Keith is not technically a repeat offender, since his last suspension was more than 18 months ago. But that would only impact the amount of salary he would forfeit, not the length of his suspension.
Clearly, Coyle said, there is no place for things like that in a game. “There shouldn’t be,” he said. “No matter what happens in a game. You shouldn’t swing your stick at someone’s face like that. That goes from when you were a Mite. Keep your stick on the ice, right? So obviously there’s no room for that. And I’m sure he wants to take it back. Heat of the moment thing. That’s how it happened.’’
Wild coach John Torchetti wouldn’t comment on the hit. “We’ll let the league decide that,’’ he said. But he did offer an opinion about how good Coyle looked.
“That’s what we want,’’ he joked. “When we took this team over we weren’t pretty enough. Playoff-hockey type [thing] there.’’