Rangers forward Carl Hagelin couldn’t apologize enough for the elbow he delivered to the head of Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
But Ottawa defenceman Matt Carkner wasn’t making any apologies whatsoever Sunday over his payback on New York forward Brian Boyle in Game 2 after the Rangers pest threw five punches at the head of Erik Karlsson in the first-round opener.
However, Hagelin and Carkner did have one thing in common: They both had hearings with NHL VP of safety Brendan Shanahan to explain their actions before being suspended later in the day.
Shanahan threw the book at Hagelin.
Calling Hagelin’s elbow to the head “recklessly striking” Alfredsson, Shanahan gave the 23-year-old a three-game ban. That means he won’t be eligible to play until Game 6 — if that’s necessary.
Carkner got a tap on the wrist with a one-game suspension. He will only miss Game 3 in Ottawa Monday night and be eligible to play Wednesday. Shanahan felt Carkner used “excessive force” on Boyle.
“While we understand a player’s desire to protect a teammate — and we’ve seen some examples in these playoffs — Carkner is excessive in his approach,” said Shanahan, who cited a past incident in which Carkner was fined $2,500. “(He) approached Boyle with the sole purpose of punching Boyle.”
Carkner said he wasn’t happy with Boyle’s actions in Game 1 and something had to be done to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Carkner said he was being a team player and just wished Boyle had defended himself.
“It’s standing up for your teammates,” said Carkner. “I think if Boyle had just stood up and fought me — he’s a big guy (6-foot-7, 244 lbs.), he could have just held on to me or whatever, we wouldn’t be here talking.
“I was kind of upset he did what he did. It’s hockey. I made (Boyle) aware. I don’t like doing that, but it’s playoffs. We needed to be team tough. That just kind of set the tone. The guys took over and played a great game.”
Carkner, who played just 39 seconds before being tossed at 2:15, said there’s no place for what Boyle did, which he explained to Shanahan.
“I pleaded my case,” said Carkner. “It was an instigated fight and I got a game misconduct. I was kicked out of that game. In my opinion, that’s enough right now.
“We had a guy taking liberties on our smallest player. Boyle is a big fella.”
Senators GM Bryan Murray defended Carkner.
“We understand the league’s decision in the suspension, but are disappointed for Matt, whom we felt was being a good teammate by standing up to a tough opponent who had gone out of his way to take physical liberties on Erik Karlsson,” said Murray.
Hagelin was somewhat contrite speaking to reporters in New York.
A 23-year-old Swede who idolized Alfredsson as a kid and is a former teammate of Karlsson’s, Hagelin apologized to the Senators captain after the game.
“I sent him a text that said I’m sorry and I’m very regretful for what happened,” said Hagelin.
Hagelin said he wasn’t trying to hurt Alfredsson. He claimed the elbow came up when he tried to avoid Alfredsson’s stick. Hagelin was given a five-minute major, but did return to the game.
“I have never had a major (penalty) before, I’m not that kind of player,” Hagelin maintained. “And especially being Alfredsson ... growing up, he’s a hero back home, one of my favourite players. There was no intention on my part (to hurt him). I just hope he’s doing well and can play (Monday).”
Sure, it’s possible, but doubtful Alfredsson will play.
GameDay, Alfie update, more playoffs: Pages 40-45