The check happened against Islanders defenceman Nick Leddy during the first period of play at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
McDavid was backchecking through centre as Leddy was moving the puck before chipping it into the Oilers zone. As Leddy released the puck, McDavid skated in front of the defenceman and clipped Leddy’s head with his shoulder.
According to the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, both factors of the illegal check to the head rule were met on the hit — the first being that the main point of contact was the head.
“The brunt of he impact of this hit is delivered by McDavid’s shoulder to Leddy’s head,” stated a video explanation on the decision Friday afternoon.
The second factor was that the head contact was avoidable.
“While Leddy is making a play on the puck as McDavid approaches, he does not materially change the position of his head or body in a way that significantly contributes to the head being the main point of contact.”
“Obviously it was not a great check, not what I was trying to do. I was just trying to finish my check,” McDavid said after the game in Edmonton. “He stopped a little bit earlier than I thought and I maybe clipped him a little too high. That was obviously not the intent at all.”
In a statement, Oilers Entertainment Group CEO Bob Nicholson said they are “highly disappointed in the NHL’s decision to suspend Connor McDavid for two games.
“We strongly disagree with the decision and it is difficult to accept for our team and most important, our fans at this critical point in our season. We will unequivocally support Connor as he explores his options.”
McDavid will forfeit US$134,408.60 and will miss games Saturday versus Anaheim and Monday at Nashville.
He will be eligible to return when the Oilers visit Toronto on Wednesday.
This is the first time McDavid has been suspended in his 267-NHL game career, according to the Department of Player Safety.
The Oilers went on to win the game 4-3 in overtime.
With files from The Canadian Press.