The NHL Department of Player Safety announced today Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo has been suspended for eight games for his dangerous hit on Penguins defenseman Kris Letang last Tuesday. This is Rinaldo's third suspension at the NHL level having received a four-game ban last spring and a two-game suspension in 2012.
When asked about the hit, Rinaldo stated, "I changed the whole game, man. [Expletive]. Who knows what the game would've been if I didn't do what I did?" (You can watch the whole interview here.)
Rinaldo said he expected to get suspended for the hit but did not seem remorseful when speaking to reporters. Are you kidding me? Not only did he injure one of Pittsburgh's best players (although Letang practiced today which is a good sign), he put his team at a major disadvantage at the end of the first period.
The 24-year-old's reckless play has been an issue since he made his NHL debut in 2011-12 and it hasn't changed all that much in subsequent years. Rinaldo has no goals and two assits in 36 games this season for the Flyers.
At this rate with Rinaldo being a healthy scratch, it's easy to wonder whether or not the Flyers are comfortable with him in the lineup. Head coach Craig Berube was asked after the game if he was comfortable with Rinaldo taking penalties in the offensive zone. Berube wasn't overly critical answering, "No, but Zac is an emotional player, and he wants to be physical and I said before he is on the edge there and he’s got to be on the edge, but it’s a fine line."
He crossed the line and then some on Tuesday night.
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