Could Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy return from his four-game suspension sooner than expected?
As first reported by Sportsnet NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman on his X (formerly Twitter) account, McAvoy is appealing the four-game suspension he received this past Tuesday for his illegal check to the head of Florida Panthers defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson in a 3-2 overtime win by the Boston Bruins this past Monday.
Charlie McAvoy had just tied the game at two 7:20 into the third period. Just over two minutes later, he delivered a headshot to the head of Panthers defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Charlie McAvoy has been given a 5-minute match penalty for this hit on Oliver Ekman-Larsson. pic.twitter.com/el8lOEY8M3
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 31, 2023
That earned McAvoy a match penalty and ejection from the game, and the Bruins then had to kill off a five-minute major. They did just that and wound up winning in overtime on a Pavel Zacha goal. However, they lost McAvoy for two Atlantic Division games against the Toronto Maple Leafs – who they beat 3-2 in a shootout on Thursday – and the Detroit Red Wings in Motown on Saturday night. Mcavoy is also slated to miss a game against the Stars on Monday in Dallas and then the New York Islanders next Thursday back home at TD Garden.
Ekman-Larsson left the game Monday and did not return. No official reason was ever given for that, and on Thursday night, Ekman-Larsson was back in the Panthers lineup, playing 26:24 in a 2-0 win over the Red Wings.
“The plan was that that was not going to be appealed, but then when Ekman-Larsson played last night for the Panthers, the decision was changed apparently,” Friedman said. “So, look, one of the reasons the [Rasmus] Andersson suspension held up for the four games was because of [Patrick] Laine’s injury. Obviously, that turned out to be a pretty significant injury, unfortunately.
So, I think what they’re probably going to argue is what wasn’t as serious, and the player isn’t as badly hurt. …so we’ll see if they can knock a game off or something like that.”
Here is the Andersson hit on Laine that Friedman is referring to and that left Laine on injured reserve:
Was McAvoy’s just as bad as that, and should the result factor in?
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is the only one who can make that decision because McAvoy’s suspension is less than six games and didn’t require an in-person hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety. McAvoy does not get the benefit of appealing Bettman’s decision to a neutral arbitrator.
According to ESPN NHL Insider Greg Wyshynski, the odds of McAvoy’s appeal trimming the suspension are likely slim.
Charlie McAvoy appeal update:
– Still trying to schedule hearing.
– Seems like he's trying to get Bettman to reduce to 3 games (at least) down from 4.
– Much surprise on NHL side at the appeal. Felt this was a "cut and dry" illegal check to head ruling.https://t.co/YBk0uadWxa
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) November 3, 2023
Per numerous sources to Boston Hockey Now on Friday night, Wyshynski’s take is on target.