Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher was suspended five games the day after he elbowed New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech in the head.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced the sanction Friday. This is the first time in his 12-season NHL career that Gallagher has been suspended.
He will be eligible to return to play on February 15, when the Habs visit the New York Rangers. Gallagher will lose just over US$169,000 in salary and that amount will be put into the players’ emergency fund.
The incident occurred at 11:52 of the third period of the Canadian’s eventual 4-3 victory on Thursday. Gallagher hit Pelech in the head with his elbow in the neutral zone.
Pelech remained lying on the ice for a few moments, then headed to the locker room and did not return to the game.
The referees reviewed the sequence and then awarded a match penalty to Gallagher.
After the game, the Canadian’s head coach, Martin St-Louis, said he understood “that ‘Gally’ wanted to slow down the opponent” in the neutral zone. He also recalled that hockey is a sport where everything “happens quickly”.
St-Louis did not want to return to his comments or comment on the matter again Friday, after the Canadian’s training, before knowing the sentence.
The Canadian did not make Gallagher available to the media for comment on his action or his suspension.
In 48 games this season, Gallagher has eight goals and eight assists.
“He’s a big presence in this locker room,” forward Josh Anderson said of his teammate. He gives his all every time he’s on the ice.
“It’s up to whoever replaces him in training to take advantage of this opportunity,” he added.
The Canadian will take charge again on Saturday, when he visits the Pittsburgh Penguins. He will then take advantage of a week off and will play his next game only on February 6 against the Capitals in Washington.