Though the 2021-22 regular season has yet to begin, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety (DoPS) was busy on Monday afternoon, deciding to suspend both Washington Capitals defenceman Dylan McIlrath and Ottawa Senators forward Ridly Greig.
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Greig, 19, has been suspended for one preseason game, as well as a regular-season game. The 19-year-old was assessed a five-minute major and 10-minute misconduct on Sunday night for an incident involving Winnipeg Jets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois. Earlier in the game, he scored a highlight-reel goal, which helped the Senators walk away with a 3-2 overtime win.
Greig, who was taken 28th overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft by the Sens, is one of the team’s top prospects. He was able to suit up for seven American Hockey League (AHL) games in 2020-21 with the Belleville Senators, recording a goal and three points. He also played in 21 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League (WHL), scoring 10 goals and 32 points.
McIlrath, 29, has been suspended two preseason games, as well as two regular-season games. The suspension was for a headshot on Boston Bruins defenceman Steven Fogarty, which resulted in a five-minute major for an illegal check to the head and was ejected from the game.
McIlrath, who was taken 10th overall by the New York Rangers at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, has not had the career that is expected for a player taken as high as he was. The pick was quite questionable at the time given that he didn’t show much offensive ability in the WHL, and those questions have been proven correct over time. The six-foot-five rearguard has played in a total of just 66 career NHL games and was most recently in the NHL in 2019-20. He is expected to spend most if not all of the 2020-21 campaign in the AHL with the Hershey Bears.
Though the league has done a good job of cracking down on dirty hits over the years, it is impossible to eliminate them entirely and these suspensions prove just that. The hope is that over time we will see even fewer suspension-worthy hits, but the fact that two were handed out before the regular season has even begun proves the league still has a long way to go.
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