Just a couple minutes into the first period, Canadiens forward Brandon Prust laid a very late and crushing hit on New York center Derek Stepan. No penalty was called, but plenty of Rangers were more than a little furious. Later in the period, a few players tried to exact revenge on Prust. Dan Carcillo charged the Canadiens enforcer, and soon after, Derek Dorsett picked a fight with him.
However, during this skirmish, Carcillo crossed a line and, as a result, could be gone for the rest of the postseason.
As Dorsett and Prust duked it out, a linesman attempted to pull Carcillo away from the action. Carcillo, though, decided shove the official, which resulted in his getting kicked off the ice for a game misconduct. It may not have looked too extreme, but there are strict rules in place when it comes to making contact with an official, and Carcillo broke them.
The situation is currently being reviewed by the NHL, and there are two possible punishments Carcillo could receive. If the league determines he “applied physical force” against an official “in any manner,” but didn’t intend to cause an injury, then he faces a suspension of at least 10 games. If Carcillo “should have known” that his actions “could reasonably be expected to cause injury,” then his suspension will be a minimum of 20 games.
When asked about Carcillo’s actions after the game, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault started out with the right response, but then followed it up with a questionable one.
“Well, he can’t do that, obviously, what he did there, but we’ll let the league handle that,” said Vigneault. However, he followed it up by saying that, had the officials called a penalty on Prust in the first place, Carcillo probably wouldn’t have shoved the linesman in the first place.
Whether or not this is true, it didn’t need to be said.
Look, I get the Rangers were very upset about the Prust hit. It was incredibly late, and should have been called. It was completely understandable for both Vigneault and his players to still be upset about it after the game. At the same time, Carcillo knows better than to shove an official. All players know better, as do the coaches. Frustration is obviously going to boil over when you see an ugly hit on a teammate go uncalled. Still, you just can’t shove an official, and you also can’t excuse such actions by saying it wouldn’t have happened had the initial hit been called.
Vigneault should’ve simply pointed out the problem with Carcillo’s actions and left it at that. Next question. Instead, he gave Carcillo an excuse for doing something he shouldn’t have.
Vigneault may be right, but in the end, the last thing he wants to do is give the notion that something like shoving an official can be excused under the right circumstances.