VIDEO: Does Kris Russell’s cross-check on a prone Nick Bonino warrant a suspension?

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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Canucks came out flying in the first period of Game 2.

Seizing control and setting a physical tone right from the get go, the Canucks received early goals from Daniel Sedin and Nick Bonino to give them a 2-0 lead over the Calgary Flames. Something happened on Higgins’ power-play marker though that could presumably, attract the attention of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

Let’s get into it.

On the play Nick Bonino fell to the ice in the slot, where he was cross-checked rather viciously by key Flames defenseman Kris Russel in the head area. You can see the play here:

It’s a play that, obviously, looks pretty similar to what Dustin Byfuglien was recently suspended four games for. The major difference, really, is that Byfuglien is exponentially more physically imposing than Russell, though there are a couple of subtle differences also.

Here’s how the NHL explained their decision to suspend Byfuglien for four games:

While Miller is on his side, Byfuglien forcefully cross checks him in the back of the neck. This is cross-checking. Some measure of physicality in front of the net is common and acceptable, particularly when defenseman are trying to protect their goaltenders. In this case however Miller is defenseless and out of the play by the time Byfuglien initiates contact…. The threat of Miller getting another scoring chance clearly has passed and he’s ineligible to be hit in anyway. Byfuglien not only delivers an illegal blow but he does so with excessive force to an unprotected and vulnerable part of Miller’s body.

Most of that applies, it seems to me, although it should probably be noted that in this case the play wasn’t going the other way (as it was by the time Byfuglien cross-checked Miller) by the time Russell makes contact with Bonino. Still it’s impossible to argue that Bonino was a threat of getting another scoring chance, or that he’s eligible to be hit in that position. 

It should also be noted that Russell has no prior history of supplemental discipline, as far as I can tell. 

Bonino wasn’t hurt on the play and there was no penalty called, which is also similar to the Byfuglien cross-check. That said, considering the playoff exchange rate, don’t be surprised if Russell’s hit only warrants a fine or nothing at all.

Russell is logging huge minutes for the Flames, and also scored the game-winning goal in Game 1. If he’s out for any length of time, that would be a massive blow to the Flames. 

What do you think?

UPDATE: According to multiple reports it would seem that – as we suspected – Russell will not be face a hearing or any sort of supplementary discipline for the cross-check:

    • andyg

      I guess your blinders are on for the many cheap shots taken by Ferland on everyone he comes in contact with, especially the hack to the finger of Burrows. Talk about a biased opinion!

      • wot96

        Perhaps Burrows will be diagnosed with micro-fractures. My gloves have padding where he got hit, guess he is just sensitive.

        Fernand paid for his shots. Lack didn’t.

      • prendrefeu

        Some posts this evening have been cross-referenced, they are on both the Flames and Canucks Nation sites. We’re all seeing the same thing and each other’s comments. This is one of them. Don’t make assumptions, just think about it for a moment. Thanks.

    • RKD

      You are delusional, two Flames jumped on Lack, so anything you say has no credibility. You really need to think through what you are going to say. Russell should get time off, but will he ? I think the NHL will not give him time off, but I would give 2-5 games as, although he was falling, he followed through with intent.

  • wot96

    Kypreos says that the cross check has nothing to do with the Byfuglien cross check in a conversation about the similarities of the cross checks. Me thinking anything about this seems pointless, and is.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Funny thing is when the Byfuglien crosscheck happened it reminded me off a crosscheck that Russell received in the 3rd period of a game just a night or 2 before… I think against the Stars? A guy crosschecking a guy in the high back or neck when he’s trying to get back up isn’t that unusual. What set Byfuglien’s apart was the wind up and the force delivered. When I watched it compared to others I have seen, there was way more viciousness and intent.

  • wot96

    Isn’t Drance that moron from theScore who did the NHL power rankings? The guy who stubbornly kept Calgary at the bottom well after every other publication had them ranked much higher, hoping they would tail off but ultimately conceding when he had no other choice?

    Sound like Lambert-level hockey IQ to me. In other words, best to ignore.

  • slapshot444

    Drance,
    Are you serious?? Your wasting space with this , did you even watch your own video clip. Russell has his legs taken out so he takes advantage of that to fall on Bonino, Why dont you write about Cricket, You might have more credability.

  • RKD

    Absolutely not, it is clear that Russell’s skates are being taken out from under him by Bonino so Russell’s hands and stick come down on Bonino, but by no means is it suspendable. Look at Buff’s crosscheck, Buff came skating in from the side he bent over, no NYR player took his skates out from under him and he followed through with intent. Russell’s was incidental and therefore not suspendable.

  • RKD

    Question: Where do Calgary Flames fans go for reasoned, intelligent discussion about their team.

    Answer: Ha! Ha! Ha! Right. Flames fans are like the Republican party of NHL fan bases.

  • RKD

    Yup. He should get suspended. Will he? No chance. This is the NHL! They’re as consistent as the WWE. The twat England is already going to get a game or two so the NHL wouldn’t dare suspend a second Calgary Jerk-Off.

  • RKD

    I wait for the day that Bob MacKenzie, and the ones in the know, add what they think shoud happen. We know what the NHL will do but what SHOULD they do is why we all flock to the social media. We want opinions not well worded middle of the road what the NHL will do,as Bob suggests they will do nothing. OK Bob, I ask you what should the NHL do ? There was a fall followed with an intent to cross check a defenseless player. Sounds suspendable to me. Just like Subban suck punching players lying on the ice. I would give both of them time off, Russell more then Subban.