In the second period of last night’s game between the Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers, Paul Byron was called for charging after a hit on MacKenzie Weegar behind the net. The forward leapt up prior to contact, which was made with Weegar’s head, sending the Habs forward to the box for two minutes.
Montreal’s Paul Byron has been suspended for three games for charging Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar. https://t.co/WYC4pDQIyN— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) January 16, 2019
The result was more severe for the defenceman, who was forced out of the game after the hit and didn’t play another shift.
I don't think it was malicious, but this isn't a great hit from Paul Byron. pic.twitter.com/HXsvhWyC1w— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 16, 2019
While it was likely not the intent of Byron, the head contact made it an illegal, and dangerous, play, leading to a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. After their investigation, they’ve determined the play was worth a three-game suspension for the Canadiens’ forward, so he will miss Friday’s contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets plus two more games.
It’s a fair sentence for the crime, and while the Canadiens are already down Andrew Shaw among the winger corps, they should be able to cope in Byron’s absence, though his speed and threat of offence on the penalty kill will be missed as his team aims for a fourth consecutive win and beyond. Byron will be eligible to return following the All-Star break.
Byron released a statement following the news.