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After his third ejection of the season, will Player Safety make an example of Martin Pospisil?

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Photo credit:Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 month ago
There are a lot of things to like about the way Calgary Flames forward Martin Pospisil plays hockey. He’s big, and he uses his size well. He moves really well, too, and his combination of size, speed and deceptive skill have made him really useful for the Flames – and earned him a two-year contract extension.
But sometimes Pospisil gets a bit too rambunctious and crosses the line, and it certainly feels like that happened – again – on Thursday night in Winnipeg.
Late in the second period, Pospisil cut across neutral ice to halt Josh Morrissey’s progress across the Jets’ blueline. Their collision resulted in an elbow to Morrissey’s head – thankfully with no injury on the play – and an elbowing major and game misconduct levied to Pospisil.
The ejection was Pospisil’s third of the season, tying him with New York Rangers forward Matt Rempe for the most in the league.
  • On Feb. 9, Pospisil was tossed for a cross-checking incident with Boston’s Brad Marchand.
  • On Mar. 4, Pospisil was ejected for a check-from-behind on Seattle’s Vince Dunn (that resulted in an injury to Dunn).
(He was also ejected during the pre-season for a hit on Winnipeg’s Cole Perfetti.)
Pospisil avoided supplemental discipline for the February incident, but he was suspended for three games for his check on Dunn. He returned to action on Mar. 12, and Thursday’s game was his 11th game back since his suspension.
The entire point of supplemental discipline is to dissuade players from engaging in dangerous conduct, such as throwing hits in a manner that puts the safety of their opponents at risk. In the eyes of the Department of Player Safety, Pospisil’s situation could be seen this way: he’s been ejected from games in each of the past three months, even after serving a three game suspension. He might not be getting the message. In similar situations, players have gotten harsh suspensions to make an example of them for the rest of the league’s players.
In terms of comparable incidents, we’d point to this one from February 2023, where Tampa Bay’s Erik Cernak received a two game suspension for elbowing Buffalo’s Kyle Okposo. The league didn’t cite an injury in their suspension rationale, but rather emphasized that the onus was on Cernak to throw a hit in a legal fashion and not extend in a way that made contact with Okposo’s head.

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So here’s the rub: Cernak had been suspended previously, but not in the previous 18 months, so he wasn’t considered a “repeat offender” under the CBA. Pospisil was suspended a month ago. As a result, an incident that may have otherwise merited a fine or a short suspension of a game or so may end up being more significant in length.
Pospisil is a good hockey player. And Flames head coach Ryan Huska obviously wants Pospisil to be physically engaged in games – that’s when he’s most effective – but acknowledged post-game in Winnipeg that there’s a “very fine line” that Pospisil needs to be good with.
It seems pretty likely that the Department of Player Safety will be intervening once again to help teach Pospisil where, precisely, that line is located.
The Flames are back in action on Saturday night when they host the Edmonton Oilers.
Was it a legal hit? Will the NHL hand out a suspension? How does the appeal process work? Who is the heavyweight champ? Every Tuesday, Ryan Pinder & former NHLer Jay Rosehill are in your Department of Discipline. Tune in to catch their takes on some of the most scrutinized parts of hockey. Check it out and subscribe to catch the latest episodes!

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