Nazem Kadri could be the second Toronto Maple Leafs player suspended in the first six weeks of the National Hockey League season.
The fourth-year centre will have a phone hearing with the league’s department of player safety at 1 p.m. ET Thursday for a hit on Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom in Wednesday’s 2-1 shootout loss in Minnesota.
At 7:07 of the first period, Kadri skated through the Wild crease and his head shot to Backstrom, a forearm/elbow blow, sent Backstrom to the ice.
The netminder lay motionless on the ice at Zcel Energy Center and stayed in the game until 10:31 when Josh Harding replaced him. Harding was scheduled to have the night off because of illness.
“Naz is a very skilled player, but he plays with an edge and he plays hard,” Maple Leafs teammate Dion Phaneuf said of Kadri, who is second in team scoring this season with 14 points in 18 games. “He’s a physical guy.”
Kadri was assessed a two-minute penalty for goaltender interference.
In the third period, Kadri hit Wild forward Mikael Granlund along the side boards and received a match penalty and ejection. It appeared Granlund lowered his body and put himself in a vulnerable position.
Kadri won’t face further discipline for that hit. Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle doesn’t believe the Granlund hit warranted a suspension.
“He made initial contact with the shoulder,” he said of Kadri, “and the kid had the head down. Then Granlund snapped his head back and obviously the referee saw it differently.”
On Nov. 1, the NHL suspended Maple Leafs forward Carter Ashton two games for boarding after he hit Calgary Flames defenceman Derek Smith into the boards from behind.