Boston Bruins Zac Rinaldo Not Suspended for Couturier Hit


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  • Boston Bruins forward Zac Rinaldo will not be suspended for his hit on Philadelphia Flyers forward Sean Couturier. Rinaldo followed the puck to Couturier who quickly tipped the puck away from himself before the contact was made with 1.3 seconds remaining in the first period. Rinaldo was assessed a five-minute major penalty for charging, and was also escorted from the game with a game misconduct due to the contact made with Couturier’s head. While the hit may have looked questionable at the time due to Rinaldo’s history of making questionable, and borderline criminal hits, this one wasn’t deemed worthy of any supplemental discipline by the league.

    Upon first glance, the head of Couturier is lowered, thus resulting in the “headshot”. According to the department of player safety, four infractions were analyzed to determine whether or not Rinaldo required supplemental discipline, and those were as follows:

    1. Elbowing

    “This is not elbowing. Rinaldo’s arm is tucked close to his body at all times, and never extends outward or upward while delivering this hit.

    2. Interference

    “This is not interference, While players without the puck are ineligible to be checked, the interference rule allows for a brief window in which players who have already initiated a hit, are permitted to finish their check. Rinaldo ininitates this hit while Couturier has the puck, and contact is made within an allowable time frame to finish a check.”

    3. Illegal Check To The Head

    “This is not an illegal check to the head. Rule 48.1 subsection 1 permits head contact that occurs ‘when the player attempted to hit squarely through an opponent’s body and the head was not ‘picked’ as a result of poor timing, poor angle of approach, or unnecessary extension of the body upward or outward.’ Here, Rinaldo takes an excellent angle of approach, hitting directly through Couturier’s body. While there is head contact here, the head is the not the main point of contact.
    4. This Is Not Charging

    “Charging is defined as a player ‘who skates or jumps into or charges an opponent in any manner.’ Here, while Rinaldo does come off the ice slightly after the hit, he does not launch into Couturier in an excessive manner. His body stays low, and there is no significant gap between his skates and the ice. This is not the case of a player launching himself up and into an opponents head.”

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    The explanation is clear, and the decision makes sense. Hopefully Sean Couturier makes a full recovery from the incident, and Rinaldo doesn’t come this close to another suspension again, whether he’s a member of the Bruins, or otherwise.

    The NHL Player Safety tweet and video can be seen below.

    Follow Brandon Share-Cohen on Twitter @BShareCohen to discuss all things Bruins and sports

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