Update Oct. 17, 1:10 p.m.: Troy Brouwer avoided a suspension for the hit on Derek Stepan. The NHL’s Department of Player Safety “viewed the play as an accidental collision” according to a league source.
Original post: Fifty-one seconds into the third period of Washington’s 2-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday night, Troy Brouwer collided with Derek Stepan in the neutral zone.
Brouwer was skating toward the Capitals’ bench for a change when he crossed paths with Stepan, trying to step over the Ranger forward’s stick only to come in contact with his head. Stepan was slow to get up and went to the dressing room for concussion testing, but he returned to the contest 7 minutes and 26 seconds later and ultimately finished the game.
“I was at the end of my shift. [Mike] Green had the puck and was pulling it out of our zone. I was going for a change and there was a little incidental contact in the neutral zone,” Brouwer said of the play. “I’m glad to see that he came back and wasn’t seriously hurt after it. Those can be tough plays and I pride myself on being an honest player and tried to get out of the way without causing as much damage as possible.”
Brouwer did not receive a penalty on the play, which referee Chris Rooney explained to the Rangers’ bench was because he deemed it accidental contact. You can even hear Rooney saying that on the replay of the hit.
After the game Stepan wasn’t upset with Brouwer, but admitted he didn’t have a clear view of how the play unfolded either.
“It’s part of the game, it happens. I feel fine so that’s the good thing. Obviously I never saw him coming. I can’t sit here and say if he did one thing or another. It happens, it’s part of the game. He said something to me on the ice that he didn’t see me,” Stepan said. “I had my back turned, we run into each other. I’m going to with that for now until I look at it and we’ll see what happens from there.”
Rangers Coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t quite so forgiving or willing to believe that the hit was unintentional.
“The referee said that it was accidental contact, and I just looked at the replay there and if he couldn’t see him there I don’t know what else he was looking at,” Vigneault said. “Obviously the principle point of contact was the head. So we’ll see.”
Brouwer has never received supplementary discipline, neither a suspension nor fine, from the NHL in his career. While the replay seems to indicate that the play was an accident, with Stepan skating backward and Brouwer not fully aware of his surroundings, that wouldn’t prevent NHL Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan for doling out some type of discipline for the play.
Five thoughts on the game to follow Thursday morning.