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Gustav Nyquist Can Expect Lengthy Suspension For Vicious High Stick to Jared Spurgeon's Face

The Red Wings forward is set to have an in-person disciplinary hearing with the league, meaning he's likely facing a ban of at least five games.

Gustav Nyquist has had a squeaky-clean NHL career so far, but one terribly dirty play may alter that reputation in a hurry.

The Detroit Red Wings forward is likely facing a lengthy suspension after a nasty high stick to the face of Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon on Sunday.

During a puck battle along the boards with about five minutes left in the opening period of Minnesota's 6-3 win, Nyquist appeared to intentionally and viciously pitch-fork Spurgeon right in the face (and dangerously close to his eye) with the blade of his stick. Astonishingly, the Red Wings forward was only given a four-minute double-minor for high sticking and was not ejected.


After the game, Nyquist was contacted by the NHL player safety department and offered an in-person disciplinary hearing. Players offered a phone hearing generally face a suspension of five games or fewer, which gives us an idea of the ban Nyquist is likely to face.

Though Nyquist, as anyone would, is claiming the spear was unintentional, it's hard to believe that when reviewing the instant replay (if your stomach can handle it). Nyquist looked right at Spurgeon before forcefully swinging his stick in the direction of the Wild defenceman's face moments after Spurgeon knocked him to the ground with a little cross check from behind.

"I had no intention of doing that. My stick gets caught. It looks bad, but I'm happy he's OK," Nyquist said after the game.

If there's one player who can make a case for himself, it's Nyquist, who's only recorded 92 penalty minutes over parts of six NHL seasons. In his last two campaigns—playing the full 82 games in both 2014-15 and 2015-16—the 27-year-old has only posted 26 and 34 PIMs, respectively, and has just 14 in 56 games so far this season. The Halmstad, Sweden, native has never been suspended or faced any type of disciplinary action from the league during his career.

Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith is the most recent, comparable incident, as he was suspended six games for intentionally swinging his stick and hitting Minnesota forward Charlie Coyle in the head last March. Chicago's all-world blueliner was forced to sit out his team's final five regular-season games, and missed the club's first playoff game while serving the remainder of his suspension.


One of the most vicious and scary stick-swinging incidents happened in February 2000, when Marty McSorley chased down fellow enforcer Donald Brashear before delivering a nasty slash to the side Brashear's head. McSorley was later found guilty of assault with a weapon in a British Columbia court and given an 18-month conditional discharge. The NHL suspended the Bruins' tough guy for the final 23 games of the season and he lost about $100,000 in pay.

It's likely Nyquist will face a suspension in the six-to-eight game range. His lack of violent history, the extent of the injury to Spurgeon, intent, and set precedent (Keith's suspension) will be the major factors in the NHL's disciplinary decision.