It was no doubt a questionable hit, worthy of review based on sheer premise alone. But the NHL offices looked further into the Georges Laraque elbowing hit to Buffalo's Nathan Paetsch that rendered the 24-year-old defenseman unconscious late in the second period of Wednesday's game.
And because of that, Big George will be out of the lineup for three games.
This certainly plays a big part in Pittsburgh's next few games, as injuries have already thinned the Penguins lines. When you consider the next two games are division matches, then suddenly it takes on even more meaning. Times that by Sunday's slated match-up against the Flyers and it hurts even more.
Buffalo's coach and perpetual foe of the Penguins' Michel Therrien had this to say:
"Nathan will be out a good period of time; he has a concussion, he was knocked out and it was a cheap shot. (Laraque) went after him. He got him right on the button and knocked him out cold. It’s an easy suspension."
Lindy Ruff, Sabres Head Coach
It's safe to say that Philadelphia's Steve Downie and Big George have some unsettled business from the January 24 meeting. Similar to the game against Buffalo, Laraque took a five minute major and game misconduct for the questionable hit on Downie with less than ten seconds remaining in the period. Philadelphia would use this penalty as an opportunity to change the tide of the game in their favor.
The hit was also under immediate speculation but failed to warrant any such penalty from the league offices.
This time around, the Penguins and Laraque were not so lucky.
Laraque won't return to the lineup until March 22 when the Penguins take on the Devils. Until then the Penguins will most likely look to use Jarkko Ruutu as the on-ice muscle in the absence of BGL.
And for those of us who may still want to see the score settled between Downie and Laraque, don't worry - the Pens end the season with a home and home match against Philly.