Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov has been suspended three games for an elbow to the head of Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh late in the first period of Thursday night’s game, a blow that knocked the defenseman out of action for the second time in 12 days.
After a telephone hearing Friday afternoon, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety explained the ban in a video, showing that Komarov “deliberately extends his elbow . . . and drives it forcefully,” although he had “ample time to take a better angle.”
The maximum penalty in a telephone hearing is five games.
Komarov, 29, is third in the NHL in hits this season and had never been fined or suspended in 160 games. Earlier Friday, he told the Canadian Press: “I feel sorry for my teammates because I let them down . . . and I feel real sorry about Ryan, too . . . I hope he’s OK. I’m not trying to hurt people, I’m just hitting. Sometimes it goes like it goes.”
It is Komarov’s third season in Toronto. He previously played in Russia’s KHL.
There is continued concern about McDonagh, who crumpled to the ice and looked shaken on the bench. He left for the remainder of the game.
McDonagh, who was playing his second game after missing four with a concussion suffered on a gloved punch from the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds on Feb. 6, is being monitored for a recurrence of concussion symptoms “for precautionary reasons.”
“It’s something we’ve seen twice now, a dirty hit,” Marc Staal said Thursday.
The Rangers, who rallied in McDonagh’s most recent absence by going 3-0-1, did not practice Friday. They will practice Saturday and host the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday before playing the next three games in New Jersey, St. Louis and Dallas.
Dylan McIlrath, a healthy scratch on Thursday after playing five straight games, likely will be back in the lineup tomorrow because it is doubtful that McDonagh will dress. It is unclear whether the Rangers will call up a spare defenseman from the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Before returning against the Blackhawks, McDonagh said: “It’s good to feel like yourself again. It’s my first and it’s not a very good feeling. You feel so groggy and down; the next day, you don’t know what to expect . . . It’s kind of a long waiting game.”
The waiting has begun again.
The team also was awaiting word on Rick Nash, who was scheduled to undergo another scan of his left leg. The power forward, who has been hobbled by a deep bone bruise, has not played or participated in a full practice since before the All-Star break, has missed 11 games and was shut down by his doctors for the past week.