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Illegal hit on Big E earns Flyers' rookie a suspension

Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 1:05 PM ET
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal
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Philly center Zac Rinaldo gives up five-inches in height to Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson. (Photo by Dave Reginek)
Moments after picking himself off the ice following a first-period collision that left the 6-foot-4 defenseman sprawled behind the Red Wings’ net, Jonathan Ericsson looked to see the “plate” number on the Flyers’ “truck” that delivered the devastating hit.

The second he noticed that it was No. 36 – the Flyers’ 5-foot-11 Zac Rinaldo – he knew it had to be an illegal hit. Rinaldo received a two-minute charging penalty.

“As a shorter guy to come up to my face, that’s illegal,” said Ericsson. “I thought it was a little bit of a dirty hit.”

Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s dean of supplement discipline, thought so, too, levying a two-game suspension without pay on Rinaldo for a charging incident in which the Flyers’ rookie center catapulted himself into Ericsson in the first period of Sunday’s game.

“I was surprised, I didn’t expect it at all,” Ericsson said of the hit. “I know he’s the type of player who runs late. I saw him up there and I played the puck before the first post and never expected to get hit after, so I felt the hit was late.”

Ericsson accepted some blame for the hit, as he had his head down trying to cycle the puck backwards behind the net when the hit occurred at 13:25 of the first period.

“Guys like that, you have to kind of keep your head up,” he said. “Maybe I’ll have to keep my head up sooner next time.”

This month Rinaldo, 21, has forfeited $10,885.88 in salary for three separate incidents, including two that occurred in a game against the New Jersey Devils, which sparked a fight involving Ilya Kovalchuk.

Rinaldo was fined $2,500 – the maximum allowed under the Collective Bargaining Agreement – for a late hit on Devils center Jacob Josefson in the second period. Rinaldo also was fined another $2,500 for his dangerous trip – a slew foot – of New Jersey captain Zach Parise after a whistle in the third period. No penalty was assessed, but it triggered a scrum that ended with Kovalchuk knocking down Brayden Schenn in a fight.

Rinaldo is the third opposing player suspended this season for an illegal hit on a Red Wings’ player, joining St. Louis Blues’ Chris Stewart and Ian Cole, who both received three-game suspensions.

 

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