Jesse Winchester went from being the Panthers big story of the day to a minuscule footnote to the news that the Panthers have fired head coach Kevin Dineen and assistants Craig Ramsay and Gord Murphy. Peter Horachek will serve as the interim head coach and he will be assisted by Brian Skrudland and John Madden. For more on the coaching change, The Rat Trick has you covered here and here. Now as for Winchester…
Last night in the first period against the Boston Bruins, Winchester caught Chris Kelly in the jaw with an elbow. It definitely seemed like a dirty hit at the time and as expected, Winchester will be having a hearing today with the Department of Player Safety.
The hit occurred at 4:57 in the first period in the Bruins defensive zone. The puck was in Kelly’s general vicinity but he most certainly does not have possession. No penalty was called and Winchester stayed on the ice for the ensuing draw. Shortly thereafter Bruins forward, and ex-Panther, Gergory Campbell defended his teammate and dropped the gloves with Winchester.
Here is the hit on Kelly:
Winchester has never been in trouble with the league before which will be in his favor in terms of length of suspension as the league comes down harder on repeat offenders. The hearing will be over the phone which means the suspension will be five games or less.
I was at the TD Garden last night and watched the hit in person. I was surprised that A) they did not call a penalty, I mean it was about as blatant an elbow as I have ever seen, and B) I was surprised that Winchester made the hit. Prior to the hit on Kelly, I have seen nothing that would suggest that Winchester is a dirty player. Yes he plays hard and yes he throws his body around but this seemed out of character. I do not think Winchester was trying to get Kelly in the head with his elbow and I do not think he was intentionally trying to hurt Kelly or anything like that. I think Winch was just trying to provide some energy by landing a big hit. That being said, the hit is indefensible and is definitely deserving of a suspension.
We should hear back from the league later today or early tomorrow. My guess is a three game suspension. Winchester has been one of the Panthers most effective forwards over the past week or so. He scored the Panthers only goal last night and now has a three game point streak and five points in his last six games. He is the Panthers third leading scorer with four goals and three assists.
What do you think about the hit? Was it intentionally? How many games do you think Winch will get suspended? Share your opinions in the comments section below and follow The Rat Trick on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest.