Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook was suspended for three games for his hit on St. Louis captain David Backes on Saturday evening, the league announced on Sunday afternoon.
The Blackhawks will be without Seabrook for Games 3 and 4 here in Chicago and, if necessary, Game 5, which would be played in St. Louis.
With less than five minutes remaining in regulation, Seabrook hit Backes high along the glass. Backes was down for several moments and struggled to stay on his feet when he did get up. Seabrook was called for a five-minute charging as well as a game misconduct. Worse, someone can be heard taunting a woozy Backes, saying “Wakey, wakey.”
“Backes skates behind the net to collect a loose puck but fails to control it. As Backes continues on his path toward the corner, well away from the puck, and past the time frame in which he’s eligible to be checked, Seabrook drives up and in to Backes, delivering a blow with his right shoulder that causes Backes to slam violently into the glass and boards. This is interference and charging. While it’s possible that Seabrook doesn’t initially recognize that Backes never gains possession of the puck, the onus is still on Seabrook to ensure he does not hit an ineligible opponent. Seabrook is in the faceoff circle when Backes over skates the puck, and Seabrook skates some distance before making this hit. So he has time to avoid this check completely. Instead, he skates into the hit and drives up with his right shoulder, delivering a violent blow that causes a defenseless Backes to crash dangerously into the boards.”
The Blackhawks nearly killed off that five-minute penalty, but with Ryan Miller pulled, Vladimir Tarasenko scored a 6-on-4 goal with just under seven seconds remaining in regulation. The Blackhawks lost 4-3 in overtime.
Coach Joel Quenneville, asked prior to the ruling how the Blackhawks would fare if Seabrook was suspended, said, “We’ll talk about that when we have to talk about it.”
Sheldon Brookbank came in last postseason when Duncan Keith was suspended a game for hitting Jeff Carter in the mouth with his stick. It’s likely Brookbank is in the lineup again now.
Seabrook said after the game that he hoped Backes was all right. Seabrook has been felled by hits like that himself. James Wisniewski had a vicious hit on Seabrook in March of 2010; Wisniewski was suspended eight games for it. Raffi Torres also landed a high hit on Seabrook in the Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks’ first-round playoff series in 2011.
“I feel bad seeing a guy like that on the ice. I’ve been there myself. I’m not trying to target his head, I’m not trying to do anything like that,” Seabrook said following the game. “It doesn’t feel good to see a player like that lying there like that and whatnot, and knowing that I hit him. It wasn’t my intent. I thought it was a hit; it’s a physical series. Hits have been laid like that from both sides the whole series. We’ll see what happens.”