Jake Virtanen could face a suspension, as the NHL has requested to have a hearing with the young Canucks forward.
The hearing is in regards to a late hit committed on Sharks defenceman Roman Polak during last night’s game.
Vancouver's Jake Virtanen will have a hearing today for interference on San Jose's Roman Polak.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 30, 2016
Virtanen was assessed a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for interference.
The hit was so late, Sportsnet barely caught it with their centre ice camera.
Here’s another angle:
Virtanen appeared to be agitated seconds before the hit, when Polak knocked the stick out of his hands in front of Sharks goaltender James Reimer.
The hit was definitely late, although it wasn’t Aaron-Rome-late (sorry to bring up that memory again).
“I was backchecking and I saw Polak move the puck, and I just wanted to finish my check” said Virtanen post-game. “It ended up being a little bit late, but it was shoulder-to-shoulder I thought. It wasn’t to the head or anything, but a little bit late.”
Virtanen is correct in his assessment that the hit was shoulder-to-shoulder, though it was a blindside hit.
Though the games at this point in the season don’t mean much for the Canucks, the decision on whether to suspend Virtanen is an important one.
Given the way the 19-year-old rookie plays, he is likely to face a few borderline suspensions in his career. If he gets a record as a repeat offender, the NHL will throw the book at him in the coming years.
The Canucks and Sharks will play each other again tomorrow night in San Jose, and it will be interesting to see if there is any retribution for Virtanen if he is in the lineup.