The NHL held a disciplinary meeting via telephone today with Brenden Dillon following his match penalty for checking Noel Acciari in the head in last night’s Jets/Penguins game. They landed on a three-game suspension.
Winnipeg’s Brenden Dillon has been suspended for three games for an illegal check to the head on Pittsburgh’s Noel Acciari. https://t.co/fpfGFVIM8B— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) February 7, 2024
Dillon, a veteran of 863 NHL games, had only previously been suspended once in his career back in 2017 prior to this incident.
That means Dillon will be out for Winnipeg’s game tomorrow against Philadelphia, and more importantly for Pittsburgh, unavailable still on Saturday when the Pens travel to Winnipeg. He will also miss the following Jets game before being able to return.
It will be an important loss for Winnipeg, Dillon plays 18 minutes a game on their second pair and is one of the team’s top penalty killers. The Pens scored two power play goals last night with Dillon unavailable following his ejection — which essentially stands as a three-and-a-half game exit that proved hurt the Jets big time in what ended up being a 3-0 loss to the Pens on Tuesday.
As far as the Pens go, there haven’t been many updates on Acciari. The team was off today but will practice tomorrow. Coach Mike Sullivan said that Acciari “seemed to be doing okay” following the game last night. He did not take a trip to the hospital but was still under evaluation in the moments following the game when Sullivan spoke on his status.
Coach Sullivan on Acciari: "He's doing okay but being evaluated right now. We'll allow the league to go through their process like they always do. At the end of the day, our opinions don't really matter. Our major concern is Noel and his health, and he seems to be doing okay."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 7, 2024
Acciari suffered bleeding from the nose and was woozy and unable to collect himself to get back on his feet in his first attempt to get up following the hit. He stayed down for a moment to collect himself and receive initial treatment from trainers before being able to be helped up and off the ice by teammates.
The Pens play next on Friday in Minnesota before making the jaunt over the border to play Winnipeg again. If Acciari is unable to play, extra forward Colin White is in position to slot back into the lineup. Pittsburgh would need to put Acciari on the long term injured reserve (if such a designation is merited) in order to have the cap space to call up a replacement after to pulling John Ludvig off the IR yesterday.
Acciari has been serving as the Pens’ fourth line center and core penalty kill member, a spot that White could fill in at, or shift over to the wing if the team wanted to use Jeff Carter as a center.