Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba.

Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

GREENBURGH — Jacob Trouba wasn’t hiding from anyone.

When it came time to answer for his high stick to the side of Boston forward Trent Frederic’s head in the Rangers' 7-4 win over the Bruins on Saturday, the captain stood at his locker after the team’s morning skate on Monday and took full responsibility for his actions.

"It’s not an excusable thing," Trouba said. “That can't happen. I’ve got to obviously control my posture and my stick better than that.

"I deserved the fine. Take it, move on, learn from the experience and don’t let that happen again. That’s not the player I want to be. It was 100% accidental. But yeah, can’t happen.’’

The play happened as the Rangers were scrambling to shut down a Bruins attack in front of their net early in the second period. The score was tied at 3 and Trouba was involved with Frederic, trying to push him away from the crease while goaltender Jonathan Quick tried to cover up a loose puck. Frederic pushed back at Trouba, who appeared to lean back as he was turning around. His stick came up and hit Frederic on the helmet.

Trouba said he apologized to Frederic the instant it happened, and thought that was the end of it. The referees did not call a penalty and no one in the building seemed to notice what had happened.

But hours after the game was over, the NHL fined Trouba $5,000 — the maximum allowable under the league's collective bargaining agreement. On Sunday, Trouba was a hot topic on X, formerly known as Twitter, where the video of the play was posted. Some were calling for him to be suspended.

Trouba said he didn’t think much about the incident until he saw a video of it after the game. He conceded that the incident “doesn’t look good.’’

“I think he's in front of the net battling hard,’’ Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “I don't know if there was intention there. It looked to me like, I mean, they're probably going at each other and you're talking about another competitive guy [in Frederic], going at each other pretty hard. You know, I like the fact that… he's competing like crazy out there.’’

The 6-3, 209-pound Trouba has developed a reputation as being one of the hardest, fiercest hitters in the NHL. But some say his thunderous body checks, that have dropped players all around the league to the ice, are dirty hits. He has often had to fight after landing those big hits, even when the referees deem the hit to be clean.

Two years ago, he hit Chicago’s Jujhar Khaira — who had his head down and didn’t see Trouba coming. Khaira landed hard on the ice and was stretchered off and sent to the hospital. A hit on Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby in Game 5 of the team's first-round playoff series in 2022 knocked Crosby out of the game and caused him to miss the next game with a suspected concussion. The Rangers, who were trailing 3-1 in the series, and losing the game by two goals, came back to win the last three games and advance to the next round.

Trouba says he doesn’t pay attention to people calling him a dirty player.

“It’s just kind of how I play the game,’’ he said. “I don't think it's dirty. That play [against Frederic] was dirty. It can't happen. But the hitting and stuff, I think that's just part of how I play the game. I don't think those are dirty.’’

“The way I kind of see it, is… if people have an issue with [my hits], they have problems with the rulebook, not with me,’’ he said. “That’s how I was raised playing the game. Those were the rules I always played by. So, if they want to change the rules, then change the rules, and see you later.’’

Adam Fox nearing a return?

Defenseman Adam Fox, who has been on long-term injured reserve since taking a knee-to-knee hit in a game against Carolina on Nov. 2, took part in the morning skate wearing a regular, white jersey, not the red non-contact jersey he wore when he skated with the team on their recent road trip. Fox is eligible to return to the Rangers' lineup on Wednesday against Detroit… C Filip Chytil, who suffered an upper-body injury in the same game where Fox was injured, skated on his own and has “been skating on a daily basis,’’ Laviolette said.

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