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Engelland suspended five games for ‘reckless’ Abdelkader headshot

Dec 18, 2013, 3:08 PM EDT

The NHL has suspended Pittsburgh defenseman Deryk Engelland five games for hitting Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader in the head on Saturday night.

“Engelland tucks his shoulder and drives through Abdelkader, recklessly picking his head and making it the main point of contact,” explained Patrick Burke of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. “Abdelkader is leaning forward and his head is exposed.”

Here’s the video:

Engelland was given a match penalty for illegal check to the head and was tossed from the game. Abdelkader struggled to get up and didn’t return, and is currently out of action while undergoing concussion protocol.

As for suspension length, the Pittsburgh rearguard’s prior history was taken into account — Engelland was suspended three games for a hit on Chicago’s Marcus Kruger during the 2011-12 campaign — as was the fact Abdelkader suffered an injury.

Engelland will miss Pittsburgh’s next five (EDIT: four, having already served one) games — at New York Rangers, versus Minnesota, versus Calgary and at Ottawa.

He will also forfeit $14,529.90 in salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

  1. steelpenbucs87 - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    Seems about right.

  2. elvispocomo - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    Fair enough, players have to learn to hit through the body more if they want to make a check. Glancing blows where the head is likely to be hit aren’t ever going to end well.

  3. mildfan - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    The players community fund is getting fat this year!! Stop hitting people in the head on purpose it is pretty easy to figure out.

  4. jpelle82 - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    5 games only cost him 14k……this kind of stupid play wont help him get a raise any time soon either.

    • runhigh24 - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:26 PM

      He’s UFA this year and an ok defensemen who can fight a little, I bet Toronto ends up overpaying him this offseason. Something like 4yrs/$14 million.

  5. joey4id - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    My name is Joey and I approve this suspension. Actually! I was initially surprised, but then listened to the video. Five games makes sense since he was previously suspended for a check to the head. The NHL is doing right for suspending the culprit. However, will this course of action lead to fewer head shots where the head is the main point of contact? Look at this hit and then think back to the Orpik/ Eriksson hit. Big difference. Not event in the same category.

    BWT, When you punch someone the head is the main point of contact…. just saying.

  6. cavafox - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    Wouldn’t Engelland get time served for the games he has been out?

    • spydey629 - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      That was my question. While I figured he was going to get five games (and deservedly so), why is he serving a five game suspension that is actually six games?

    • bmscalise - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:47 PM

      Yeah- he already served one when Toronto was in town, so he’ll be back for the Carolina game. But as soon as guys start filtering back from the IR – I hope he sits. He has no business playing over Bortuzzo or Despres – or probably even Dumoulin for that matter. DB has some inexplicable loyalty to him.

      • claysbar - Dec 18, 2013 at 7:46 PM

        Gotta hate team loyalty to a career AHL guy that made his mark fighting, then got a chance in the NHL, adapted his game to be reliable 5-7 dman and after the d-corps got very deep, was able to once again adapt and be a reliable bottom 6 forward that can still play d during penalties, injuries etc.

      • c9castine - Dec 19, 2013 at 2:07 AM

        the guy can play. despres should def play over him but not bortuzzo (yet) and don’t kid yourself drumlin is here out of necessity. he has a solid future but needs some seasoning in WBS still for sure. him and samuelsson both

  7. 7mantel - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    Will Disco Dan and Shero man up and condemn Engelland action leading to his suspension ?

    • c9castine - Dec 19, 2013 at 2:09 AM

      wtf does that even mean, man up? you have no idea what your saying

      • 7mantel - Dec 19, 2013 at 11:17 AM

        if you don’t know what man up means your lost in space

    • hockey412 - Dec 19, 2013 at 8:10 AM

      I don’t believe they supported it…the only coach that I know of that makes a habit of flapping his gums to the press over every little thing is in Boston.

      So no, probably not.

  8. bhunter47 - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    Seems about right for a repeat offender for a similar type of hit.

  9. whiskytango333 - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    Any and all shots to the head should be a 5 game suspension, minimum.

  10. wisdomnfl - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    pure BS

  11. njadvocate111 - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Question of the day, over the last 5 years since 2009, which team has the most suspensions?

    Hint #1: The answer will not surprise you.
    Hint # 2: Numbers do not include Matt Cooke ending Marc Savards career.

    If you want a bigger sample size, by all means go right ahead and look at the numbers, youll get the same answer.

    You can make excuses all you want, but what it comes down to is John Tortorella hitting the nail on the head in stating that “they are the most arrogant organization in the league”. Facts are facts.

    • c1md6 - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:10 PM

      Couldn’t agree more, they’re a dirtbag organization that year after year gets babied by the league

      • c1md6 - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:16 PM

        And the ironic part is Lemieux is the first one to whine about hitting and dirty players yet he continued to employ some of the dirtiest players in the league for years and still does.

    • buysamadrink - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:12 PM

      Yup. And Torts has always been known to be a calm, rational, and objective guy.

      • thomasvanek - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:36 PM

        He’s usually not wrong though

      • c9castine - Dec 19, 2013 at 2:10 AM

        there is a reason why even in the madness of the internet that comment is the only one with a ridiculous margin of thumbs up over down.

    • spydey629 - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:23 PM

      Nice try. The numbers lie. If my math is right, the number you aren’t telling is 53? With literally half of it coming from two incidents:

      *10 from Eric Godard’s “automatic” for leaving the bench the night the Islanders dressed every undercard fight and goon in the tri-state area.

      *17 from the ridiculous Colin Campbell Wheel-O-Suspensions on Matt Cooke. By no means am I saying he didn’t deserve it, but the 10+ the playoffs exaggerates the number a lot.

      Nice spin. Too bad it only took five minutes of effort to prove how inflated you made it.

  12. sclairebear - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    It shouldn’t include Matt Cooke ending Marc Savard’s career, because his hit did not end his career. Did Cooke’s hit contribute to ending his career? Yes, but it didn’t end it. Savard actually was out for one month after Matt Cooke’s hit and played the next year until January when was hit in the head by some Colorado guy. He never played after that hit.

    • Moop - Dec 18, 2013 at 5:59 PM

      Bit of a correction:

      Savard only played 7 more games in the 2009-2010 season after being hit by Cooke, in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Flyers.

      Savard returned from injuries related to his concussion on the Cooke hit the next season on December 3, 2010. He then played 25 games before receiving another concussion at the hands of Matt Hunwick of Colorado. He has not played since, and when he did play in 2010-2011 he was far from the player that he had been before the hit.

    • flyerspsu - Dec 20, 2013 at 1:24 AM

      technically he played 25 or so more games afterwards but cookes hit did all the damage and essentially ended his career

  13. muckleflugga - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:16 PM


    still trying to rationalize the orpik goon shot as a clean hit…from the safety of a keyboard…?

    come play league hockey in these parts, lay that hit on anyone, find the key to the room, get yourself gone from the premises and the parking lot, there will be many scrambling to return the hit in kind but with greater enthusiasm…after which you’ll be carried away in a truck with bright sparkly flashing lights to match those dancing in your head

    bend your insight to the thornton suspension, itself reduced in proportion to orpik’s butt-ugly stupidity precipitating the entire affair…orpik left a man unable to protect himself concussed…does the term respect factor into bylsma’s ballyhooed player education rhetoric

    yet penguins continue their goonery…

    bylsma, he of the alligator tears, should be fined in equal proportion to engelland, as should shero and the organization, each in their turn

    policy to be followed league-wide…

    • claudegirwho - Dec 18, 2013 at 5:12 PM

      Hahahaha it’s one of those internet thought guys how cute. “Lay this hit in our parts and you’ll leave in an ambulance cause were Boston strong”

      • claudegirwho - Dec 18, 2013 at 5:13 PM


  14. benrob99 - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    Muckle…. you might be the dumbest person I’ve read on this site. an that is saying A LOT.

    As far as Engelland. Bad hit, and I think it’s about the right length of the suspension. The bigger problem for Engelland is how does he convince the coaching staff back into the lineup. If Bortuzzo plays with anywhere near the intensity he did the other night, he pretty much makes Engo obsolete. Bortuzzo is a better skater, defender, and MUCH better with the puck. All Engelland has going for him is fighting, but I’m pretty sure Bortuzzo can step in there too.

    The bigger question (which I’m not going to touch) is should either of those two ever play over Despres.

  15. bsfan77 - Dec 18, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    Pitt fans start crying in 3, 2, 1. About time Pitt has the hammer come down. Losing respect in the leauge by the day. Biggest bunch of goons out there. You should resign Cooke and go get Torres while you are at it! Yinz all say that the hits are clean. It would be a different story if Lucic hit Crosby like Orpik hit Ericsson. Cindy would be down on the ice and the brain dead Pitt fans would be calling for the electric chair.

    • cavafox - Dec 18, 2013 at 9:03 PM

      But not… most fans are saying they are fine with it. Keep yapping.

    • 6superbowls - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:03 PM

      Maybe if Thornton would wipe his vagina and man up to his suspension, Boston might get a little respect.

  16. bruinsfan1953 - Dec 18, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    I can see why they let Matt Cooke go , They have many more of that kind of player . But for God’s sakes , do u lay a hand on Cindy

  17. theskinsman - Dec 18, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    Should be season long! Oh, wait, he’s a pen. Nevermind.

  18. slysipops - Dec 18, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    this HAS to be a mistake….. noone on PITTSBURGH does anything bad………..just ask the jerks at ROOT TV they tell ya …..honestly !

  19. ironman721 - Dec 18, 2013 at 9:35 PM

    That’s a fair suspension. As for the trolls, this has nothing to do with Cooke or Crosby. This is hockey not curling. Guys hit people and sometimes they hit them illegally. When they do they get suspended. If you don’t want to get suspended, don’t hit guys in the head. Period! I hope the other guy is ok cause you never want to see injuries. Blind hatred for Crosby has no place here.

  20. nyrnashty - Dec 18, 2013 at 10:09 PM

    I think the hit is fine. You see

  21. nyrnashty - Dec 18, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    I think the hit is fine. I see bigger more violent hits in amateur hockey these days where penalties aren’t even called. I’m afraid that the NHL is going to become a glorified non checking mens league if they don’t watch out. I see harder/dirtier hits watching Princeton University games these days.Something is wrong when you can hit someone as hard as you want in any league in the world except the NHL.

  22. mikeinindy - Dec 19, 2013 at 7:25 AM

    Y’all have to remember who is issuing this suspension. Shanny goes out of his way to protect players on the teams he played for — especially the soviets (sorry, wings). If the hit was by a wing instead of into a wing — no suspension. It was a glancing blow at best, Abdulkader should have been more aware of what was going on around him, and SHOULD HAVE KEPT HIS HEAD UP!!!

    • physunknown - Dec 19, 2013 at 2:20 PM

      I might be old, but I seem to remember the now-clichéd “skate with your head up” refer to big, clean hits to which players took exception, and occasionally caused some injury. These days, it’s just a way for a fan of an offending player to blame the victim.

      Sorry, this one is pretty clean cut. He’s lunging for the puck. Bad move when a d-man is there? Sure. Engelland, however, has to recognize the position Abdelkader is in and be sure not to contact the head; being that Abdelkader’s head was forward, throwing a body check there would be nearly guaranteed to contact the head. Thus, Engelland has to hold up.

  23. pvs1959 - Dec 19, 2013 at 1:27 PM


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