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Brooks Orpik gets NHL suspension hearing for Olli Maata hit

The NHL’s Department of Players Safety will have a phone hearing with defenseman Brooks Orpik of the Washington Capitals for his hit that took out defenseman Olli Maata of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

It was in the first period of Game 2, just 4:13 into the game. Well after Maata released the puck in the Capitals’ zone, Orpik lunged at him in an effort to take him out the play. It was clearly interference – but Orpik’s left shoulder connected with Maata’s head and dropped the Penguins D-man. Maata was woozy leaving the ice, and didn’t return to the game.

Orpik was given a minor penalty for interference.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said that Orpik thought the puck was coming back to Maata after a shot and a rebound. “There’s a real size difference, and Maata leaned into it a little bit.”

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told NBC in an interview that the hit deserved a major. He said after the game that Maata is “obviously out” and that "I think it's the type of hit that everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game."

And that’s why Orpik will be suspended.

Sure, Maata crouches a bit before the hit, putting himself in a prone position. And maybe Orpik was going for a shoulder-to-shoulder hit. But in this case, does that matter? It’s a hit that shouldn’t be delivered, an injury that shouldn’t have occurred. Maata missed the rest of the game, and Orpik should miss at least the next game, we’re going by the standards of NHL Player Safety.

Orpik, for what it’s worth, hasn’t been suspended since the 2005-06, despite Mike Milbury of NBC going off on him last night. Or should we say “goes off on him again,” because Orpik made the cardinal sin in Milbury’s world of injuring a Bruin once.

Trotz said he believes Orpik plays the game “the right way” but that the Capitals will deal with whatever the League decides. One assumes that means we might see Dmitry Orlov or Mike Weber in Game 3.


Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.



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