Mark Scheifele suspended four games for Game 1 hit
Winnipeg Jets centre Mark Scheifele has been suspended four games for his crushing hit on Jake Evans of the Montreal Canadiens in their playoff series opener Wednesday night.
The NHL's Department of Player Safety made the announcement Thursday night after a hearing with the Jets' scoring leader in the aftermath of Montreal's 5-3 win. The hearing was conducted by telephone so the maximum penalty Scheifele could've received was a five-game ban.
The six-foot-three, 207-pound Scheifele received a charging major and game misconduct on the play, which came with 57 seconds remaining in regulation.
Prior to the suspension being handed down, Jets head coach Paul Maurice defended Scheifele's hit, saying it was "clean."
"For me the feet are on the ice, the arms are tucked in and it's a body contact," he told reporters during a videoconference. "That's the way I see it."
Evans, who turned 25 on Wednesday, had just completed the wraparound into the empty net with 57 seconds remaining. But before the six-foot, 183-pound Evans could celebrate, he was levelled by Scheifele, who delivered the harsh blow with his right arm tucked into his body.
Evans fell hard to the ice, the right side of his head hitting first. As a skirmish ensued, Winnipeg forward Nikolaj Ehlers used his body to shield the fallen Evans from those who were fighting.
Evans remained down for about eight minutes before leaving the ice on a stretcher.
"You need to do everything you can to stop a goal from being scored," Maurice said. "It was a heavy, heavy hit for sure but it was clean.
"He (Scheifele) is a big, strong, powerful man that can skate. In order to try and cut that play off, he was skating pretty good. He wasn't striding through the hit by any means. It was a hell of a hit, it was hard. Good on Evans, he took the hit to make the play. I didn't have to bring in Oprah or Dr. Phil to sit down with Mark to see how he's feeling (Thursday morning)."
Evans wasn't taken to hospital but Montreal interim coach Dominique Ducharme said Thursday that Evans had suffered a concussion. In 2018, Evans was hit during a rookie showcase game, taken off the ice on a stretcher to hospital, and put in concussion protocol.
"Any concussion you can be worried about," Ducharme told reporters. "Obviously you can have one and sometimes it's one too many.
"You never want to see that."
Evans won't play Friday night and is out indefinitely.
It marked the second straight North Division playoff opener in which a player suffered a concussion and had to be taken off on a stretcher. Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares took a knee to the head from Montreal's Corey Perry n Game 1 of a North semifinal.
Predictably, Montreal forward Paul Byron saw the Scheifele-Evans play differently than Maurice.
"It just seemed so unnecessary," he said. "Everyone kind of knew he was going to score the goal, it didn't really seem like he made much of an effort to stop the goal.
"You see your teammate and friend lying on the ice like that, it's a terrible feeling."
The loss of Scheifele is big for Winnipeg. He was the club's scoring leader with 63 points (21 goals, 42 assists) in 56 regular-season games with just 12 penalty minutes.
The 28-year-old native of Kitchener, Ont., has two goals and three assists in five playoff games so far this year. He's currently tied with Kyle Connor, Blake Wheeler and Josh Morrissey for the team scoring lead.
Montreal defenceman Jeff Petry said Scheifele's absence won't force the Canadiens to play differently.
"We're going to play them the same way as if he was in the lineup," he said. "Pressure them hard, take away their time.
"We're going to approach the game the same way and focus on what we need to do."
Byron and Petry say the best redemption Montreal can gain on Winnipeg is to win the series, not exact revenge upon individual Jets players.
"The best way for us to respond is to win hockey games so Jake can come back," Byron said. "He's been playing great for us.
"Again (he) made a great effort on the goal to chase it down and put it the net and finish the game for us. We need to win hockey games so he can come back and keep playing well for us."
Added Petry: "The best way to get back at them for that is to win the series. Our focus is to make sure we're playing the right way . . . and make them pay that way."
Byron, too, has been on the receiving end NHL justice. He received a three-game suspension in January 2019 for a hit on Florida defenceman MacKenzie Weegar during a game.
"My own feelings were obviously regret," he said. "I don't think you ever consciously go in to hit a guy to hurt someone but at the same time you have to own up to your actions.
"You're responsible, it doesn't matter if a guy is in a vulnerable position or not. At the end of the day you control your actions, you control what you do, how you finish your checks . . . you have to own up what you do and be responsible and take accountability for it."
Scheifele has earned the reputation of being an offensive player (507 points in 575 regular-season games). His career-high for penalty minutes is 48, registered in 71 regular-season games with Winnipeg in 2015-16.
"I know he's going down there to finish a check," Byron said. "I think his reaction immediately was knowing that he made a mistake.
"It's a bad hit . . . regardless of how he feels (Thursday) you can't hit guys like that "
But Winnipeg defenceman Neal Pionk said often players have a split-second to react on the ice.
"It's an intense game, it's a fast game and I don't think anyone on our team is targeting guys or certainly not trying to hurt guys," he said. "It's tough but you do everything you can to keep your elbows down and keep hour shoulder low and make sure you don't make contact with his head."
Jets forward Andrew Copp said he and his teammates are glad Evans's injuries weren't more serious. But he's unconcerned about potential retribution from the Canadiens.
"We have to find a way to win the next game," he said. "I think that's all
Winnipeg Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
After the most expensive election in Canadian history resulted in little change politically, many are asking whether it was worth the $610-million price tag and where else that money could have been spent.
Inside hospitals across Saskatchewan, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, health-care workers are reporting a worsening crisis, with record-breaking COVID-19 hospitalizations pushing the health-care system to the brink.
Long-term care outbreaks are rising, and provinces have different strategies for keeping COVID-19 out
As the fourth wave continues across Canada and community spread climbs, outbreaks are also on the rise inside Canada’s long-term care homes, leading experts to stress the importance of staff being vaccinated — an issue which varies province to province.
A source close to the family of Brian Laundrie says Gabby Petito's fiance, who is now the subject of a federal warrant, left his parents' Florida home last Tuesday without his cell phone and wallet.
British actor Tom Felton, known for his portrayal of Draco Malfoy in the 'Harry Potter' movies, collapsed while playing a celebrity golf exhibition Thursday at the Ryder Cup.
Canadian fashion model Linda Evangelista says she's been left 'permanently deformed' from a cosmetic procedure that she had approximately five years ago.
The corporate entities of SNC-Lavalin Inc. and SNC-Lavalin International Inc., as well as two former senior executives of the Quebec-based firms have been charged with a series of fraud and forgery offences by the RCMP.
Canada saw only a slight increase in the volume of foreign nationals entering the country in the first week after the border opened to those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
An Ontario mother, who had been holding a one-woman protest for the past week to try to get help with her son's autism care, will finally have her file looked at after a call from the social services minister.
Saskatchewan broke COVID-19 hospitalization records again on Thursday, reporting 273 patients in hospital with 58 in intensive care.
Saskatoon City Council will look at a committee recommendation to allow parking patios to operate through the winter, making them a year-round amenity.
A Saskatoon judge has ruled in favor allowing a father to have his child vaccinated despite the mother being opposed to her child getting the shot.
'Unbelievably heartbreaking': Sask. nurse left waiting for transplant as province suspends organ donation program
Krystal Graham has been on the liver transplant waitlist for about a year. Now, she says she is concerned COVID-19 will delay her life-saving surgery even longer.
The Melville Millionaires have postponed hockey games until further notice after a positive COVID-19 case associated with the team.
Six-year-old Nygah Eashappie is pretty subdued about his newfound fame. The Regina boy is the latest to model in advertisements for local clothing brand; 22Fresh.
Alberta reported 1,660 new cases of COVID-19 and 17 new deaths on Thursday.
Alberta Health is investigating whether an Edson party advertising itself as a “get COVID” event to build up natural immunity to the virus actually happened.
Some Calgary businesses say while the new city vaccination bylaw doesn't change what they do, it does ease some of the pressure on front line staff.
Alberta reported 1,660 new cases of COVID-19 and 17 new deaths on Thursday.
Two men were rushed to hospital after an apparent drive-by shooting in south Edmonton Thursday night.
While five front-running mayoral candidates faced off in a forum Thursday afternoon, the other candidate, Mike Nickel, was serving hot dogs in the parking lot of his campaign office.
An Ontario man who had a faulty gas metre and racked up at $1,000 bill says was shocked when the was told he would still have to pay the bill.
Someone in Ontario won more than $21 million in Wednesday’s LOTTO 6/49 draw but has yet to check their ticket.
Unvaccinated MPPs could be prevented from entering Queen’s Park when the legislature resumes in October unless they get tested for COVID-19.
After just a few hours of debate, Quebec's National Assembly voted unanimously Thursday evening to pass a new bill that would prohibit anti-vaccine protesters from demonstrating near schools, daycares, and hospitals -- an offence punishable by a fine of up to $12,000.
Quebec kids were at the heart of a heated exchange Thursday over language laws -- specifically, English-speaking kids and whether they're really leaving school with functional French.
Amid major staff shortages, Quebec will cut large cheques to health-care workers in a bid to strengthen a public network put under serious pressure by the pandemic.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | COVID-19 in Ottawa: Fast Facts for Sept. 24, 2021
The latest on COVID-19 in Ottawa for Friday, Sept. 24.
Officers were sent to the home on Rue Dunkerque in Aylmer, Que. just after 2 p.m. Wednesday to carry out a "well-being check."
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | What's happening in Ottawa this weekend: Sept. 24-26
CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at activities and events happening in Ottawa, eastern Ontario and western Quebec during the final weekend of September.
An investigation into the shooting of a white cow moose in northern Ontario last fall has been closed and officials say no charges will be laid.
A 17-year-old from Greater Sudbury has been charged with attempted murder in connection with the stabbing of a woman downtown last week.
CTV News has learned Timmins police have a suspect in custody after one person was killed and two others were injured in a shooting in Schumacher overnight.
A former Kitchener MP has pleaded guilty to assault charges.
Waterloo Region’s big Bavarian festival officially kicks off on Friday.
Although many businesses in Waterloo Region say the vaccine certificate program has been running smoothly so far, they're prepared for that to change.
A possible loophole in B.C.’s vaccine card registration system is making the rounds on social media.
The Vancouver Canucks are banking on the capacity limits at Rogers Arena being lifted in time for the regular season home opener.
In a significant upset, the long-time Conservative incumbent in Richmond Centre has lost her seat to a political newcomer, according to the CTV News Decision Desk.
The cases were among 832 new cases found in B.C. over the past 24 hours, according to the Ministry of Health.
The president of the Cedar Hill Golf Club says a report from District of Saanich staff recommending changes to the operation df Cedar Hill Golf Course will hurt the club and its members.
Health officials on Vancouver Island have declared clusters of COVID-19 at four more schools in the South Island. There are now five active clusters at schools in the region.