June 13, 2024

The NHL Department of Player Safety grounded Seattle Kraken forward Yanni Gourde for two games for charging Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm late in Thursday night’s 4-2 loss in Edmonton.

As they connected with the glass, Gourde’s shoulder caught Ekholm in the face as he lunged towards him against the boards. As every player for Edmonton on the ice jumped to Ekholm’s defence, Gourde found himself at the bottom of a pile in front of the Oilers net. Following a review of the footage, Gourde’s five-minute major for boarding was amended to charging.

“Gourde elevates unnecessarily, launching up and into a check that makes significant contact with Ekholm’s head,” the NHL said in a video that was made public along with the ban. “This is a charging device. It is crucial to understand that this is neither a situation in which a player comes off the ice after a collision due to the severity of the hit, nor is it one in which a player elevates slightly as part of a normal striking action while delivering a full body check. Gourde cannot elevate upward and strike Ekholm in the head; instead, he must remain low and pass through his shoulder or core in order to properly deliver this cheque.

Following the hit on Ekholm, who also received

roughing penalty for the altercation, Gourde was left with a cut behind his left eye from the subsequent altercation with the Oilers.

After their previous encounter, Gourde appeared to be fired up by Oilers star Connor McDavid. Gourde appeared to take advantage of the hit on Ekholm as an opportunity to avenge himself when McDavid checked him in the back off the draw.

Gourde’s ban will prevent him from playing at home against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday.

The team would be without three of its top four centres for the next two games (assuming Matty Beniers doesn’t return to the lineup), so the suspension may force the Kraken to call up Coachella Valley’s Shane Wright for assistance. Beniers and Pierre-Édouard Bellemare are also still out due to injuries.

 

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