Mark Scheifele has been suspended four games by the NHL Department of Player Safety.
The Winnipeg Jets center was disciplined Thursday for charging Montreal Canadiens forward Jake Evans in a 5-3 loss in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Second Round at Winnipeg on Wednesday.
The incident occurred at 19:03 of the third period. Scheifele received a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct. Evans was taken off the ice on a stretcher and is out indefinitely with a concussion.
“It was a heavy hit,” Jets forward Andrew Copp said Thursday. “Down a goal with a minute to go, I think [he was] just trying to stop them from scoring. If we’re missing Mark, we’re missing arguably our best player for however long. … Guys will have to step up in his place if that’s the case.”
Scheifele’s suspension would begin with Game 2 of the best-of-7 series at Winnipeg on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; USA, CBC, SN, TVAS). He would be eligible to return in Game 6.
If the term of the suspension is not fully served during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the remaining game would be served at the beginning of the 2021-22 regular season.
Scheifele is tied for the Jets lead with five points (two goals, three assists) this postseason. He led Winnipeg in the regular season with 63 points (21 goals, 42 assists), the sixth straight season he scored at least 21 goals and 60 points.
“To describe how much he means to our team, obviously he just had a phenomenal year,” Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey said. “He’s a great leader in our room. He produces offensively for our team and sort of does it all, and I think this year he’s really taken a lot of steps forward in his game and shown that he’s amongst the elite players in our League, in my opinion. Obviously he’s a huge part of our team, our best player up front, and I think he’s a phenomenal player and a massive part of our team.
“I know that he doesn’t play the game in a vicious manner or anything like that. I know the last thing he’s out there trying to do is hurt somebody.”
Evans was hit by Scheifele at the goal line near the net after scoring an empty-net goal. Evans was down on the ice for about six minutes before being taken off.
“You need to do everything you can to stop a goal from being scored, it’s part of the game.” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “It was a heavy, heavy hit for sure, but it was clean.”