Just a $10,000 maximum fine and no missed games for Joffrey Lupul after his cross check on Patrick Eaves in the Winter Classic.
As Lupul and Eaves tried to locate the puck inside the Red Wing blueline in the first period, Lupul went to push Eaves with a cross check and caught Eaves in the neck/side of the face area. Lupul’s focus is on the puck in Eaves’ feet and Eaves is hunched over, but Lupul was reckless in his application of the cross check.
That the conditions were brutal and the players were having to search through the snow for the puck may have been a factor in this ruling. Lupul and the Leafs in the hearing may have successfully played the card, “If we’re playing in conditions where we’re half blind…”
A cross-check shove, of which this is a mild version, while a player protects or shields the puck really isn’t all that uncommon. Lupul missed the shoulder and definitely deserved the fine, but a suspension would’ve been harsh. Eaves, who has a history of jaw injury and concussion, has had his jaw reset after the incident, but is feeling fine (or seemingly better than before?) and isn’t expected to miss any games:
[quote_box_center] “Everything’s good to go now,” Eaves said. “It was pretty uncomfortable with my jaw being the way it was; my teeth weren’t lined up. I was pretty sore right away. But it’s back in the right spot and feels a lot better.”
Lupul was fined $10,000 by the NHL for the hit — the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement — and avoided a suspension.
Eaves was out for more than 13 months with a concussion after suffered a fractured jaw when hit by a shot on Nov. 26, 2011. Lupul’s check caught him on the same side, but he wasn’t worried about a concussion.
“My head was fine the whole time; I was clear and everything,” Eaves said. “It was just the jaw; I’ve been down that road before and was hoping I didn’t have to go down it again.”[/quote_box_center]