Last night in the final minutes of the third period against the St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild captain Jared Spurgeon went for an unfortunately uncharacteristically ugly cross-check at Pavel Buchnevich’s ankle.
Dean Evason reacted (pretty generally) on this hit, as well as on Kevin Fiala’s high-sticking, and Marcus Foligno’s fight near the end of the game, saying, “we’ve got to play between the whistles and forget about the crap. We don’t need to do that… They’re avoidable penalties.”
Evason’s absolutely correct here. I’m not anti-fighting, I think the idea that one might have to be on the other side of a Foligno superman punch if they get up to any funny business is well, a kind of fun deterrent and something that I think makes hockey an especially fun sport. But this was underhanded and seemed pretty clearly done with the intent to injure. That’s an important distinction.
I expected a suspension, if I’m honest, but it looks like the Wild dodged a big bullet here, as he was fined $5,000 for the hit and won’t miss a game.
I imagine his Lady Byng candidate level play over his career and nearly squeaky clean record up to this point is the only reason he managed to avoid one, but this absolutely cannot happen, not from anyone, and especially not from the team’s leader. He’s too important of a piece to be missing for something so completely avoidable. Playing without Spurgeon Wednesday would have been a huge blow in their attempt to regroup after Game 1.
I have some not-minor concerns about how ugly Wednesday’s game might look now too. Buchnevich and co. will have a bone to pick with Spurgeon if they feel he wasn’t properly punished by the league; that will be one big bell for Spurgeon and the team to answer in Game 2.