Detroit winger Gustav Nyquist was suspended six games by the NHL for high-sticking Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon in Sunday’s game between the teams at Xcel Energy Center.
The ruling was handed down Wednesday by the league’s department of player safety.
Nyquist was hit from behind and partly crosschecked by Spurgeon, who was not penalized, along the boards during a first-period play. Nyquist retaliated by swinging his stick and struck Spurgeon on the left cheek with the stick blade. Nyquist was given a double-minor for high-sticking; Spurgeon was stitched up and returned to the game, which the Wild won 6-3.
Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist suspended six games for high-sticking Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon. https://t.co/L7m2cxliA6— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) February 15, 2017
“This is not an accidental or inadvertent high stick,” the NHL ruled on a video that repeatedly showed the infraction.
“Nyquist insisted that his intention upon getting back on his skates was to respond with a crosscheck of his own, and that he was attempting to get his stick around Spurgeon and in position to deliver a crosscheck when the blade jabbed Spurgeon in the face,” the league spokesman said, but cited two major factors in the decision: “He is attempting to use his stick in a retaliatory fashion … [and] Nyquist is completely responsible for using his stick to deliver a blow that was extremely dangerous and easily could have resulted in a major, if not career-threatening, injury.”
Before the suspension was announced, Spurgeon was asked about the play at the Wild’s practice on Wednesday.
“Obviously I was a little shocked to get a stick to the face like that,” he said. “Until you see the replay, you don’t really know what happened. But [the NHL will] take care of it.’’
Said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau: “It doesn’t help us either way, unless they suspended him playing against us the next time.”
The Wild has a game remaining against Detroit on March 26, after Nyquist’s suspension ends.
“I had no intent to high-stick him,” Nyquist told Detroit reporters Tuesday. “This isn’t the player I am. I haven’t been in this situation before. It’s new for me. I hope people don’t think that’s the kind of player I am. It’s not fun. It won’t happen again, that’s for sure.”
In 317 NHL games, Nyquist has only 92 penalty minutes. His suspension will cost him $158,333 in salary.
• Anaheim winger Antoine Vermette was automatically suspended by the league for 10 games (with a right to appeal) for physical abuse of an official in the Ducks’ 1-0 victory over the Wild on Tuesday. Vermette slashed linesman Shando Alphonso following a faceoff.