New York, NY – The National Hockey League issued a two-game suspension to Ottawa Senators defenseman Eric Gryba on Friday.
Gryba was punished for an illegal hit -- in direct violation of Rule 48 -- on Canadiens forward Lars Eller late in the second period of a 4-2 Ottawa victory over Montreal in Thursday's Game 1 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal from Bell Centre.
Eller was reaching back for a pass by teammate Raphael Diaz at his own blue line when Gryba leveled him with a high and blind-side hit to the head.
"Gryba is closing in on Eller, in anticipation of Eller receiving a pass from his teammate. Just as Eller receives the pass, Gryba delivers the open-ice hit. In doing so, Gryba makes Eller's head the principal point of contact, causing a serious injury," noted NHL director of player safety Brendan Shanahan in a video explanation of his ruling.
"In attempting this very difficult check, Gryba does not hit squarely enough through the body. A hockey player bears some responsibility to be aware of an impending check, however, since the inception of the current 'illegal check to the head penalty,' no player should expect that his head will be made the principal point of contact, whether intentionally, or recklessly."
Gryba was given a major for interference and a game misconduct at the 13:28 mark of the period. Eller lay motionless on the ice with a pool of blood nearby until he was escorted from the ice on a stretcher.
According to a report from RDS of Canada, the 23-year-old suffered a broken nose and lost several teeth. The Montreal Gazette revealed following the contest that Eller has additional facial fractures and lost consciousness. He remained in a local hospital overnight for evaluation.
Eller was released from Montreal General Hospital earlier in the day and will not play in Game 2.
Gryba will not be eligible to return to action until Game 4 of this best-of- seven set, scheduled for next Tuesday in Ottawa.