Suspension will teach Smith lesson
“I’m going to have to learn from this, for sure,” Smith said. “The game moves very quickly. I’m going to have to adjust to it, and make sure that I’m in the right place at the right time, so that will never happen.”
The NHL announced Friday that they were suspending Smith for the final three preseason games and five regular-season games for his third-period hit to the head of Chicago forward Ben Smith.
“I thought it was a little steep with the five regular-season games,” Smith said. “I was trying to get a spot here, so I don’t have that many games to show that, but like I said, I thought it was a little steep. … But you never want to see anyone get hurt.”
The Blackhawks’ Smith cruised across the blue line with the puck, and clearly had a step on the Wings’ defenseman, who was gaining on him from the side. But Ben Smith then tried to toe-drag around Brendan Smith when the collision occurred, rendering the Chicago player motionless and face-first on the ice at the United Center.
“It’s a high-risk play when someone tries to cut to the middle,” Brendan Smith said. “It’s not an illegal play on him, and actually, he made a great move. I was actually trying to catch him, because he kind of had a step. It’s a very fast play with both of us going full-speed. It’s a tough play, but obviously, I was never targeting his head. I feel terrible about the outcome of what happened.”
Brendan Smith later phoned the Blackhawks’ player to offer an apology.
“I actually got in touch with (Ben Smith) and just apologized and said, ‘In no intentions did I try to do that.’ I was just trying to out-play the man, and try to make sure that he didn’t get to the net, and not let him score. Obviously, some things can go wrong. And that was the worst possible thing that could happen.”
In terms of the suspension, Brendan Smith and the Wing are in a unique situation. Because he has options, the Wings have decided to assign Smith to Grand Rapids, where he had 12 goals and 20 assists in 63 games last season. But the five regular-season games must be served at some point with the Wings, and not in the AHL.
“It’s frustrating knowing that I have this gorilla on my back with five games,” Smith said. “Hopefully, we can try to take care of it as soon as possible, so if anything happens and I have a chance to get called up, I can.”
Asked if the suspension will, in any way, change his playing style, Smith said, “I’m never going to change the way that I play. The reason that I’ve got this close and had my chance to play here is because of how I’ve learned to play and how I’ve been taught. I’m never going to chance that.
“I just have to be more aware, so that I don’t penalize myself, as well as injure another player.”
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