The NHL may be suspended, but that’s not going to stop the league from coming down on New York Rangers forward Brendan Lemieux.
The New York Rangers played the Colorado Avalanche in their final game before the league suspended play. During that game, forward Brendan Lemieux was hit with an interference penalty for a late hit on Joonas Donskoi. The hit drew the attention of the NHL Player Safety committee.
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) March 12, 2020
While the hit may not seem like a lot, it was certainly late and intentional. That makes it a dangerous hit, which is why the NHL has decided to suspend Lemieux.
Following a hearing today, the DOPS has determined that Brendan Lemieux will be suspended for his hit on Joonas Donskoi Wednesday night. The precise parameters of the suspension will be determined and announced once resumption of play guidelines have been established.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 13, 2020
They haven’t announced how long the suspension will be last. The league decided it is best to hold off on announcing the length until the league resumes play.
This will be a blow to the Rangers if/when the season resumes. Lemieux is a key bottom-six player for the Rangers. Losing him in the middle of a playoff race would be huge.
Lemieux has just 18 points in 59 games, but that’s the second-most of any Ranger who has consistently played bottom-six this season.
Lemieux is also the team’s enforcer. He provides much-needed grit to the team. Without him in the lineup, they lose that toughness on the bottom-six. That likely means replacing Lemieux with another less skillful grinder.
Grinders without any skill have become useless in the modern NHL. So losing Lemieux and replacing him in that manner would be akin to removing a player from the lineup.
The Rangers can ill-afford to put themselves in such a scenario in the middle of a playoff race.