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Panthers’ Bennett suspended three games for illegal check on Paquette

Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett has been suspended three games for delivering an illegal check to the head of Cedric Paquette from the Montreal Canadiens during Saturday’s game.

Bennett was disciplined Sunday following a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

The incident occurred early into the first period in front of the Canadiens net after Paquette had just passed the puck. Bennett appeared to lead with his shoulder into Paquette, who laid on the ice until the whistle was blown.

No penalty was called on the play.

Paquette went back to the dressing room and missed the remainder of the period. Although Paquette returned for the second, he finished the game in the room due to a reported neck injury, according to Sportsnet’s Eric Engels.

“Paquette collects a bouncing puck in front of his goal and looks up ice to move it to a teammate. As he surrounds the puck, Bennett moves in from the slot and delivers a forceful shoulder check to Paquette that makes his head the main point of contact, knocking him to the ice. This is an illegal check to the head.” said the department of player safety in a video explaining the suspension.

“While we acknowledge that Bennett does make subsequent contact with Paquette’s left shoulder after going through the head, it is clearly Paquette’s head that absorbs the brunt of the force … It is also important to note that the head contact on this hit is avoidable. Bennett has the time and space to deliver a legal check that hits through Paquette’s near shoulder and core. His chosen angle of approach, however, forces him to cut across and in front of the body and make the head the main point of contact.”

Bennett scored twice to lead the Panthers to a 5-2 victory over the Canadiens.

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Written by Sportsnet

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