Written by By Catherine Cornwell, CNN Written by
Ian Cole was fined US$5,000 on Friday for kneeing Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele in the head in the third period of Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final.
Crown Prosecutor Matt Storment, appointed to the case by the commissioner’s office, says “the appropriate fine is $5,000” but added that the hearing was “not an admission of guilt.”
“This disciplinary hearing will be held outside of court to ensure our professional respect for judicial process and procedure,” the NHL said in a statement.
The 30-year-old Hurricanes defenseman left Scheifele hurt in the third period of Thursday’s game, injuring him for the rest of the game and scoring the game’s only goal in Carolina’s 2-1 victory.
Scheifele’s jaw was left bloody and the Jets coach Paul Maurice said he felt like his team had been “smeared” by Cole’s actions.
“That’s just low, very low. I’ve been in a lot of these buildings and we’ve had knee checks, but never a knee to the head,” he said.
The NHL’s misconduct charge was the heaviest issued by the league in any incident this postseason.
One of the more vociferous defenders of the New Bern, North Carolina native, who joined the Hurricanes in 2015 after a 10-year stint with the Nashville Predators, was firebrand former player Rick Rypien, who died in 2014.
In a video posted by Cole’s former team the Predators, Rypien called the offensive play “an act of stupidity” that was “like taking the ball from [Cincinnati Reds player] Joey Votto” and intended to injure Scheifele.
Kimmo Timonen, a former National Hockey League captain and Czech Republic star, was also quick to comment on the incident, calling it “classless” and believing it “wouldn’t happen today.”
Cole’s actions drew some condemnation from former players, as well.
“I don’t think it should be like that in the game. It’s going to happen in the game, it’s hockey. It’s not like he’s the first guy to do it,” said Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr.
“I’ve seen things like that before and we need to stop the way we are playing the game. We are too much physical. That’s not the game.”
Cole has played in the NHL since 2009 and recently signed a new five-year contract worth $23.5 million.