Aaron Dell might have taken the notion that goaltenders rarely take penalties a little too far, and Drake Batherson paid the price.
During Tuesday’s game against the Ottawa Senators, the Sabres netminder was leaving the puck behind his net for one his teammates, and to protect them from an oncoming Batherson, Dell took Buffalo culture to heart and chicken-winged the Sens forward.
As TSN’s Mike Johnson says on the broadcast, it is fairly textbook interference to simply get in the way of a puck-handler and a forechecker as Dell did. To make everything worse, Batherson did not return to the game after crashing into the boards, and Ottawa coach D.J. Smith said after his team’s 5-0 win that the 23-year-old will be out long-term.
And the cherry on top of the unfortunate sundae is that Batherson was supposed to be on his way to Las Vegas next week for his first All-Star Weekend.
“It definitely stings,” Senators captain Brady Tkachuk said after the game. “It definitely sucks. Quite frankly, it was just a bullsh-t play. What happened was unnecessary and dirty. You just feel for [Batherson]. He’s put in so much work to get to where he’s at. It definitely sucks.”
Dell will have a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to determine if he will be suspended.
This isn’t anything new for the 32-year-old goaltender.
“I didn’t know anything about it, but after I came in, I see replays of him other times and running out and hitting players. And you know it’s a pattern,” Smith said via The Athletic. “It’s a bad play by the goalie. And he’s done it before.”
Despite appearing in just 126 NHL games, there is already a pattern, as the Senators coach mentioned, where Dell sees himself as a sixth skater and feels free to lay out some opposing players.
This is just something that you don’t see, and even if there is rarely an official ruling for goaltender-on-skater hits, the receiver does not see it coming.
“I don’t like calling out other goalies, but they’re not expecting to get hit by a goalie. Just like when a goalie comes out to play the puck, you can’t hit him,” Ottawa netminder Matt Murray said. “I just thought that was a dangerous play that turns out to be a really unfortunate result.”
For his reasoning, Dell gave the standard response.
“I was just trying to buy some time for my defenceman and step into (Batherson’s) lane. I hope he’s all right. I wasn’t trying to hurt anybody,” he said.
Batherson scored the 13th goal and 34th point of his season before he was clotheslined by the opposing goaltender.
For entertainment purposes, we won’t have to wait long for these two clubs to face one another again, as they will be playing their final head-to-head game of the season on Feb. 17.
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