Well, that could’ve gone better.
Philadelphia Flyers forward Jake Voracek appealed his two-game suspension for interference, but Gary Bettman has upheld the punishment that was assessed.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 13, 2019
Here are a few snippets from Bettman’s explanation:
“At the hearing, Mr. Voracek and his representatives conceded that a one (1) game suspension would be accepted without appeal, but requested that I reduce the suspension from two games to one.
At the hearing, Mr. Voracek conceded that his conduct constituted interference. He said that he believed that Mr. Boychuk intended to hit him as opposed to making a play on the puck. As a result, in order to protect himself from injury, Mr. Voracek said that he braced himself for the hit, and said that he did not lunge towards or into Mr. Boychuk.
While I accept Mr. Voracek’s explanation that he thought Mr. Boychuk was going to initiate a check, the video makes it clear that it was Mr. Voracek who initiated the contact. At the hearing, it was acknowledged that Mr. Voracek had other options available to him, but instead, Mr. Voracek moved into Mr. Boychuk’s path by taking a step to the left and driving upwards into Mr. Boychuk.
The onus was on Mr. Voracek to avoid causing a significant blow to Mr. Boychuk’s head. The force was significant enough to cause Mr. Boychuk to require medical attention on the ice and he did not return for the balance of the game. I
t is worth acknowledging the during his long career in the NHL, Mr. Voracek has maintained a strong character and a clean record with no prior supplemental discipline history. However, that does not absolve Mr. Voracek of the responsibility to play this game in a safe manner in accordance with the applicable rules. Accordingly, the Department of Player Safety’s decision to suspend Mr. Voracek is supported by clear and convincing evidence and is affirmed.”
Voracek missed Monday night’s win against the Senators and will serve the second game of his suspension on Thursday night against the Washington Capitals. The Flyers lost to the Capitals last week without Voracek, who missed the game with a lower-body injury.
The two-game suspension was already a joke and the fact that it was upheld after an appeal only exemplifies that. Voracek had no history of suspensions or fines over his 834-game career and was not making a dangerous play against Johnny Boychuk.
When a player swings his stick at a player’s head, that’s a one-game suspension. When a career AHLer boards a 20-year-old up-and-coming forward, that’s a one-game suspension. But this apparently warrants two games — even after appeal.
Voracek went to defend himself, perhaps was further away from the puck than he thought, but he did not go out of his way to target Boychuk. On the other hand, Boychuk pointed at him “like it was a WrestleMania” and the Islanders targeted him for the rest of the game.
There has been no consistency with the NHL Department of Player Safety, and it’s really a shame that it has to impact the Flyers in such an important part of their season.